Monday, July 16, 2018

Committee Hearings – Week of 07-15-18

With both the House and Senate in Washington there will be a fairly active committee schedule, but little of specific interest to readers of this bill. There will be a rules hearing on a spending bill that will be considered this week in the House.

HR 6147 – IER Spending

Today the House Rules Committee will hold a rules hearing to establish a structured rule for the consideration of HR 6147, Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019. Actually, this will be another mini-bus consideration as HR 6258, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019, is being added to the bill for consideration in the House.

The Committee has received 170 amendments for the IER portion of the bill, but none of them are of specific interest to readers of this blog. The Committee will select a portion of those (and of the 85 offered for the HR 6258 portion of the bill) to be considered on the floor of the House later this week.

On the Floor

As noted above, HR 6147 will come to the House floor either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. It will pass, but there is little likelihood that the bill will receive substantial bipartisan support.

We have seen substantial progress this year on spending bills in the House but have yet to see any real action in the Senate. Part of this is due to the backlog of nominations that still plagues the Senate and the procedural delays in the consideration of those nominations. Another part of the problem is an unintended consequence of the decision to reduce the length of the summer recess in the Senate. This has reduced some of the pressure on the Senate to act early on the spending bills that have passed in the House.

Unfortunately, this could backfire on the leadership. The House has not announced a reduction in their summer recess schedule. This means that they will likely be recess when the Senate completes action on at least some of the spending bills. This means that a vote to go to conference will likely be delayed on those bills until the House comes back to Washington in September.

There is a way out of that dilemma, but it would require a great deal of cooperation and trust between Ryan and Pelosi. Since the House will meet in pro forma session throughout their recess there could be unanimous consent votes on going to conference during the proforma sessions. With no one calling for role call votes, the two representatives representing the Speaker and the Minority Leader could go through the procedural dance of initiating the conference committees. Unfortunately, with pressure of both Ryan and Pelosi from their party’s more radical elements, this is unlikely to take place.

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