McConnell sets 'minibus' strategy for 2019 spending

McConnell sets 'minibus' strategy for 2019 spending
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellManchin backs raising debt ceiling with reconciliation if GOP balks Biden needs to be both Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside Billionaire tax gains momentum MORE (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that he intends to pass spending bills for fiscal 2019 in groups of “minibuses,” marking a departure from the previous year's dysfunctional appropriations process.

The Kentucky Republican also set a goal of passing the first two appropriations bills on the Senate floor in June.

“It’s our hope that we’re not just marking these up in committee, but taking them to the floor and getting as close to a process that both sides will be comfortable with in the future,” he said.

Speaking at the Senate Appropriations Committee, McConnell said the strategy had been agreed to in consultation with Minority Leader Senator Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPricing methane and carbon emissions will help US meet the climate moment Democratic senator: Methane fee could be 'in jeopardy' Manchin jokes on party affiliation: 'I don't know where in the hell I belong' MORE (D-N.Y.) the bipartisan leaders of the committee and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.).

The announcement came moments before the committee voted unanimously to approve 302(b) allocations, which break down the agreed $1.244 trillion in discretionary spending for 2019 into 12 individual bills.

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Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyBlack Hawk pilot shot down in Somalia jumps into Alabama Senate race Senate Democrats ditch Hyde amendment for first time in decades Senate Democrats unveil remaining spending bills, teeing up clash with Republicans MORE (R-Ala.) has laid an aggressive schedule of marking up the bills in committee before the July 4th recess.

Senators failed to pass any fiscal 2018 appropriations on the floor until nearly six months after the new year began, when they were included an omnibus bill that combined all the bills.

Shelby on Thursday spoke out against an omnibus approach, in which many of the decisions are often made at the last minute by leadership and the White House.

“I think we all agree that’s no way to fund the government. I think it’s bad for the agencies, it’s bad for our constituents, it’s bad for the country,” he said.

The Senate bills, which will require bipartisan support to pass on the floor, are likely a closer indication of what the final spending package will look like than those passing in the House, where only a simple majority is required.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised On The Money — Democrats tee up Senate spending battles with GOP MORE (D-Vt.), the panel's ranking member, praised Shelby for working cooperatively with Democrats on compromise bills, and jabbed the House for its more partisan approach.

“It’s in sharp contrast to [the] other body. They’ve taken a different path,” he said.