Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Rules Committee to Meet on Omnibus Spending Bill

This morning the House Rules Committee announced that it would be conducting a rules hearing this afternoon to establish the rule for the consideration of Senate amendment to H.R. 2029 - Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016. What will actually be considered is a new amendment that would make this the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016”.

A copy of the Rules Committee draft of this proposed amendment is available. The Rules Committee has also made available explanatory statements for the various divisions of this bill. Divisions of specific interest to readers of this blog include:

DivisionC – Defense; (NOTE: This link is currently not working) [21:16 CST, 12-16-15]

DHS Explanatory Statement

A quick review of the DHS explanatory statement shows the following topics that may be of specific interest to readers of this blog:

• Surface Transportation Security, pg 41;
• STS, Intelligence, pg 42;
• Infrastructure Protection And Information Security, pg 55;
• IPIS, Cybersecurity, pg 57;
• IPIS, Cybersecurity Strategy and Planning, pg 59;
• Office Of Health Affairs, pg 61;
• Federal Emergency Management Agency, pg 62;
• FEMA, Ensuring Rail Security, pg 64;
• Section 521, CBRNE Office, pg 79;

DOT Explanatory Statement

A quick review of the DOT explanatory statement shows the following topics that may be of specific interest to readers of this blog:

• Federal Railroad Administration, pg 24;
• Pipeline And Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, pg 33;
• PHMSA, Small scale liquefaction facilities; pg 33
• PHMSA, Emergency Preparedness Grants, pg 36

Cybersecurity Act Explanatory Notes

This only provides a one paragraph, very high-level summary of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, a compilation of provisions from three bills passed in their respective house of congress; S 754 (CISA), HR 1560 (Protecting Cyber Networks Act), and HR 1731 (National Cybersecurity
Protection Advancement Act of 2015).

This will take some time to review in detail.

Moving Forward

The Rules Committee will formulate a structured rule for the consideration of HR 2029. There will be limited debate (one hour) and a vote. The back room dealing between the House and Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle almost ensures that this bill will pass (probably Thursday) in the House and then Friday in the Senate. There will be bipartisan opposition to the bill, but I don’t suspect that it will be substantial.

The current spending authority ends tonight at midnight, but the House just passed HJ Res 78 that will extend that deadline long enough to allow the votes on HR 2029. NOTE: the GPO has not yet received the resolution so I have not been able to see all of the provisions. I don’t expect to be able to see that until tomorrow morning.


Neither party will be totally satisfied with this bill and that is to be expected. While the Republicans arithmetically ‘control’ both the House and Senate, their majority in the Senate is not large enough to push controversial bills through without at least some support from Democrats. That is further aggravated by the fact that there is a minority of the Senate Republicans that have an aggressively partisan agenda that may not support the Republican leadership. With a Democrat in the White House, the Republicans also have the problem of not being able to override a presidential veto of a bill without support from Democrats in both the House and Senate.

So, at the end of the day, spending bills have to be a matter of compromise between the leadership of both parties. Neither side will get everything that they want. On the flip side of that, neither side will be forced to accept anything that they cannot live with. That is how democracies should work.

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