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 RoyPelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership GOP lawmakers want answers from Disney on Mulan, China Freedom Caucus member Chip Roy touts bipartisanship in first campaign ad 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 praises Kyle Rittenhouse's 'restraint' for not emptying magazine during shooting Rep. Dan Meuser tests positive for COVID-19 Liz Cheney wins Wyoming GOP primary in reelection bid 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 McConnellOcasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell 'he is playing with fire' with Ginsburg's seat McConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Video shows NYC subway station renamed after Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP eyes early exit Dems discussing government funding bill into February GOP short of votes on Trump's controversial Fed pick MORE (R-Ala.) and GOP members of the panel met last week with acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney to start hedge fund Fauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal United Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid House Democrats plan to unveil bill next week to avert shutdown 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 CornynCalls grow for Biden to expand election map in final sprint Bipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection 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 LeeLawmakers press CDC for guidance on celebrating Halloween during pandemic Sharpton, police reform take center stage at National Mall Sheila Jackson Lee presses Congress to pass reparations bill at DC march MORE (D-Texas) reintroduced legislation that was initially spearheaded by former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersBiden's immigration plan has serious problems Tlaib wins Michigan Democratic primary Tlaib holds lead in early vote count against primary challenger 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 HarrisSocial Security and Medicare are on the ballot this November Harris honors Ginsburg, visits Supreme Court The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump and Biden vie for Minnesota | Early voting begins in four states | Blue state GOP governors back Susan Collins MORE (D-Calif.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board remembers Ginsburg: She 'will forever have two legacies' Two GOP governors urge Republicans to hold off on Supreme Court nominee Sanders knocks McConnell: He's going against Ginsburg's 'dying wishes' 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 BookerBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into allegations of medical neglect at Georgia ICE facility 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 TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards 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.