This week: Democrats move funding bills as caps deal remains elusive

House Democrats are set to move funding for most of the federal government this week, even as lawmakers have struggled to reach a budget caps deal.

The two packages, known as “minibuses,” will cover nine of the 12 individual appropriations bills that Congress needs to pass by Oct. 1 in order to avoid the second government shutdown of the year. The House will start work on the bills Tuesday, as lawmakers get a late start to the week; both the House and Senate will only hold brief, pro-forma sessions Monday.

The House will take up two funding packages: a roughly $1 trillion package that includes labor, health and human services, education, defense, state, foreign operations and energy and water development; and a separate $383 billion package that includes commerce, justice, science, agriculture, rural development, the Food and Drug Administration, interior, environment, military construction, veterans affairs, transportation, and housing and urban development.

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The chamber began the process of voting on amendments to the labor, health and human services, education, defense, state, foreign operations and energy and water development.

Lawmakers voted on dozens of amendments to the bill last week during a late-night session that included votes until 1 a.m. and debate until 4 a.m. after conservatives led by Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings Trump congratulates China on anniversary as GOP lawmakers decry communist rule Texas Republicans sound alarm about rapidly evolving state MORE (R-Texas) prolonged the process by calling for roll call votes. They’re expected to force the House through additional roll call votes this week as they try to pressure Democratic leadership to bring up legislation providing additional border funding.

The move earned Roy criticism from both sides as he forced colleagues through a late-night series of votes, with Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieGOP lawmaker says newly-released Butina was jailed due to 'Russophobia' O'Rourke gun confiscation talk alarms Democrats Scalise blasts Democratic legislation on gun reforms MORE (R-Ky.) saying Roy is “catching hell” from his fellow lawmakers.

.@chiproytx is catching hell from colleagues right now for requesting recorded votes on amendments and forcing transparency. Heard on the floor: ‘Just exactly what do you think this will accomplish?’ ‘Are we getting paid overtime?; ‘I’m missing my fundraiser for this.’ #swamp,” he said on Twitter.

Movement of the government funding packages in the House comes as the Senate Appropriations Committee hasn’t yet moved any of the 12 government spending bills.

The holding pattern comes as leadership is trying to reach a deal with the White House to increase the defense and nondefense spending caps. Lawmakers would use the agreement to set top-line numbers for their appropriations bills.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell protege emerges as Kentucky's next rising star Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches McConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: Trump seeks to shift spotlight from impeachment to economy | Appropriators agree to Dec. 20 funding deadline | New study says tariffs threaten 1.5M jobs Appropriators agree to Dec. 20 funding deadline Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate MORE (R-Ala.) and GOP members of the panel met last week with acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings Mulvaney drops plans to file lawsuit on impeachment testimony MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinNew book questions Harris's record on big banks On The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed Democrats ramp up oversight efforts over 'opportunity zone' incentive MORE and Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought to try to nudge the White House toward accepting a two-year budget deal.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing GOP senators warn against Trump firing intelligence community official Falling investment revives attacks against Trump's tax cuts MORE (Texas), a member of GOP leadership, said that he is “hearing a two-year deal sounds pretty positive.” Shelby added that a two-year deal was “in everybody’s best interest.”

“We’re talking,” Shelby added. “We’re talking seriously.”

Without a caps deal, across-the-board cuts known as sequestration will kick back in early next year. Lawmakers warn that the cuts would be draconian to both defense and nondefense spending, and are hoping to get an agreement now to try to clear the barn ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline to avoid a government shutdown.

Shelby told reporters after the meeting that they made “pretty good progress.”

“Did we crystalize it? No. We didn’t think we’d crystalize it today, but we’re making some progress. But we have some unanswered questions that need to be answered,” he added.

If lawmakers can’t reach a deal, senators could agree to “deem” top-line numbers so they can start moving government spending bills. The spending packages would have to then be adjusted once they get a budget caps deal.

Shelby told reporters that, without a deal, they would likely try to start moving appropriations bills once lawmakers return from the July 4 recess, giving them a matter of weeks to lock down a caps agreement.

“If we don’t have a deal when we get back, I would hope that you would start moving our appropriations bills based on a rational number,” Shelby added.

Congress has until Oct. 1 to pass 12 appropriations bills, either individually or packed together. Lawmakers aren’t expected to be able to clear all of the spending bills by then, meaning they’ll need a short-term continuing resolution to keep all of the government open.

NDAA

The Senate will start work this week on a massive defense bill that authorizes billions in spending for the Pentagon.

Senators will take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after they wrap up a slate of Trump’s nominees.

The bill, which passed the Armed Services Committee in late May, provides $750 billion in total spending, including a base budget of $642.5 billion for the Pentagon and $23.3 billion for the Department of Energy’s national security programs.

The bill also gives $75.9 billion for the overseas contingency operations fund, an account that does not fall under budget cap restrictions. The figure is significantly below the administration’s request of $164 billion for the fund. The White House was hoping to use the money to be able to plus up defense spending without having to get a deal to also raise nondefense spending.

The Senate bill does include the administration’s request for $3.6 billion to “back fill” money the White House diverted from the military construction account as part of his national emergency declaration to build part of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. It does not include the administration’s request for an additional $3.6 billion in wall funding.

Senators have already filed dozens of amendments to the Senate’s bill, though it’s unclear how many of them will actually get called on the floor for a vote.

In recent years, amendment votes have hit an early roadblock over disagreements over which proposals will be allowed to get a vote; instead, leadership has agreed to wrap noncontroversial amendments into the bill as part of a manager’s package.

The chamber’s work on the bill is expected to spill over into next week.

Reparations hearing

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is slated to hold a hearing Wednesday “to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice,” The Associated Press first reported.

The hearing will be the first that’s taken place on the topic since 2007. Actor Danny Glover and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates are scheduled to appear as witnesses.

Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeConsequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears Video of Greta Thunberg crossing paths with Trump at UN goes viral Lewandowski: House testimony shows I'd be 'a fighter' in the Senate MORE (D-Texas) reintroduced legislation that was initially spearheaded by former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems release first transcripts from impeachment probe witnesses Hispanic Caucus dedicates Day of the Dead altar to migrants who died in US custody Today On Rising: The media beclowns themselves on Baghdadi MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) that calls for a study on reparations.  

The issue has become a topic of debate in the Democratic presidential primary.

Several 2020 candidates, including Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Poll: Buttigieg leads Democratic field in Iowa MORE (D-Calif.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE (I-Vt.), said while speaking at the National Action Network event earlier this year that they would sign a bill forming a reparation study commission into law if they become president.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOutsider candidates outpoll insider candidates The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race Poll: Biden support hits record low of 26 percent MORE (D-N.J.) has introduced legislation in the Senate that mirrors Jackson Lee’s legislation. Though it would form a commission, it does not call for African Americans to receive payments.

Booker’s office announced last week that his bill has received 12 co-sponsors, including several 2020 candidates.

“We cannot address the institutional racism and white supremacy that has economically oppressed African-Americans for generations without first fully documenting the extent of the harms of slavery and its painful legacy. It’s important that we right the wrongs of our nation’s most discriminatory policies, which halted the upward mobility of African-American communities,” Booker said in a statement.

Nominations

The Senate will vote this week on another slate of President TrumpDonald John TrumpLive updates on impeachment: Trump echoes Limbaugh: 'Partisan sham' Tim Ryan endorses Biden for president The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine MORE’s nominees, including four judicial picks.

The Senate is expected to vote on Sean Cairncross to be the chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Senators will also vote on Matthew Kacsmaryk to be a judge for the Northern District of Texas, Allen Winsor to be a judge for the Northern District of Florida, James Cain to be a judge for the Western District of Louisiana and Greg Guidry to be a judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Marina Pitofsky contributed to this report, which was updated at 6:41 a.m.