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 RoyRoy to challenge Stefanik for Cheney's old position The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted Warren says Republican Party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' 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 MassieOvernight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna Vaccine hesitancy among lawmakers slows return to normalcy on Capitol Hill Gaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program 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 McConnellOn The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Masks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyBiden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Republicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Top Senate Democrat announces return of earmarks MORE (R-Ala.) and GOP members of the panel met last week with acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says 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 CornynGOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Police reform talks hit familiar stumbling block CNN asks Carol Baskin to comment on loose Texas tiger 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 LeeVictims' relatives hold Capitol Hill meetings to push police reform Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote House panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations MORE (D-Texas) reintroduced legislation that was initially spearheaded by former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersDemocrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote House panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations Chicago suburb could serve as road map for reparations 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 HarrisImmigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border Priest who presided over Biden's inaugural mass resigns from university post after investigation MORE (D-Calif.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersStudy: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B Machine Gun Kelly reveals how Bernie Sanders aided him in his relationship with Megan Fox Overnight Health Care: CDC approves Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 | House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill | Panel blasts COVID-19 response 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 BookerPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Almost 20 advocacy groups team up to pressure Congress to pass health care bill for immigrants Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines 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 TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? 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.