House pushes back schedule to pass spending bills

House pushes back schedule to pass spending bills
© Greg Nash

The House is pushing back its June target date for passing 12 appropriations bills and is setting up July as a new deadline.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerMexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew House Democrat calls for 'real adult discussion' on lawmaker pay MORE (D-Md.) signaled the change in a Friday letter to lawmakers.

"[The House Appropriations Committee] will continue to hold necessary COVID-19 oversight hearings before beginning subcommittee and full-committee markups at the end of June and beginning of July," Hoyer wrote. 

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Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkHouse pushes back schedule to pass spending bills Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Pelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid MORE (D-Mass.) said the bills may have to wait until August for floor passage.

"We're trying to be flexible, but it is definitely a goal to make sure that those bills are done early in the summer," she said.

The first subcommittee markup, she added, was likely to be for the the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, the largest nondefense spending bill, on June 4.

The House and Senate have until Sept. 30 to send all 12 bills for the 2021 fiscal year to President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE to have them signed into law. Without new funding by then, the government would shut down.

The House, which is led by Democrats, is expected to pass partisan bills without GOP support in the first go around. The Senate, which has a GOP majority but needs bipartisan support to pass bills, has yet to set a schedule for passing the spending bills.

A similar pattern emerged last year, with the House passing partisan bills in June, while the Senate delayed until both chambers and the White House reached agreement on overall spending levels.

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The government had to keep running on temporary extensions until December, when lawmakers finally passed the appropriations legislation.

This year, appropriators had a head start because the funding levels had already been agreed to as part of last summer's spending deal. However, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown new complications into the mix.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDemocrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending Fights over police reform, COVID-19 delay Senate appropriations markups Trump's push for major infrastructure bill faces GOP opposition MORE (R-Ala.) is looking to move some $12 billion in Veterans Affairs spending off-budget, freeing up funds to pad other priorities and smooth negotiations.

Many of the same stumbling blocks in negotiating the 2020 bills are expected to reemerge this year, though budget watchers anticipate they will end up with similar compromises this time around.

The stumbling blocks include immigration, the border wall and Trump's use of emergency funds from other departments to build the wall.

Mike Lillis contributed.