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.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 RoyGOP divided over Liz Cheney's future Trust between lawmakers reaches all-time low after Capitol riots GOP senators blame Trump after mob overruns Capitol 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 MassieHouse conservatives plot to oust Liz Cheney GOP lawmaker on Capitol protesters: 'I will not be deterred' by 'mob demand' Questions and answers about the Electoral College challenges 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 McConnellBoebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report Urgency mounts for new voting rights bill Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Defense: Trump impeached for second time | National Guard at Capitol now armed, swelling to 20K troops for inauguration | Alabama chosen for Space Command home Space Command to be located in Alabama MORE (R-Ala.) and GOP members of the panel met last week with acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report - House to impeach Trump this week Democrats, GOP face defining moments after Capitol riot The Memo: GOP and nation grapple with what comes next MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinTreasury imposes additional sanctions on Cuba over allegations of 'serious human rights abuse' Treasury Department sanctions inner circle of Russian agent Derkach for election interference Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated 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 CornynCruz, Cornyn to attend Biden inauguration McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Rick Scott will 'likely' join challenge to election results 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 LeeHouse Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death MORE (D-Texas) reintroduced legislation that was initially spearheaded by former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersBottom line Biden's immigration plan has serious problems Tlaib wins Michigan Democratic primary 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 HarrisHarris to be sworn in by Justice Sotomayor using Thurgood Marshall's Bible In calling out Trump, Nikki Haley warns of a more sinister threat On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE (D-Calif.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Biden to seek minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal 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 BookerSunday shows preview: Washington prepares for an inauguration and impeachment; coronavirus surges across the US NCAA tables name, image and likeness vote after DOJ warns of potential antitrust violations Warren and other senators seek investigation into Trump administration resuming federal executions 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 TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media 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.