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CCTS Newsletter | December 13, 2018

Thursday, December 13, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andres Bachelet
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Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen

December 13, 2018

 

Lawmakers are running out of time to reach agreement with the White House over a path forward for the seven unfinished spending bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. Work has largely been completed on the appropriations measures with the only remaining hurdle the resolution of a request for $5 billion of new funding for border wall construction from the administration. Programs supported by the seven outstanding spending bills (EPA, State Department, Homeland Security, etc.) are currently operating with level-funding under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that is set to expire on December 21st.

 

During a contentious meeting with Democratic leaders over the current funding debate, the president repeatedly stated his willingness to shut down the government as a negotiating tactic. While such a maneuver would not impact the FY 2019 funding increases already secured for medical research programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (NIH, AHRQ, etc), the Veterans Administration, or the Department of Defense, the current tone of the debate could signal trouble ahead for further spending increases during upcoming appropriations cycles. Democrats will have a more prominent role in the funding process when the 116th Congress convenes in January, and at that time compromises will need to be made to advance all twelve annual spending bills, possibly strike a budget deal, and address the re-emergence of sequestration. A willingness to spar with the White House on broad political issues could shatter the fragile truce that has allowed lawmakers on a bipartisan basis to significantly investment in the full spectrum of medical research over recent years.

 

While we may not know the strategy that the 116th Congress will employ during the FY 2020 appropriations process, the picture of who will be leading key committees and making key decisions is beginning to take shape. The Democrats have announced that Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) will continue to serve as Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee while Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) will transition from her current role as Ranking Member on House Appropriations to Chair the committee during the next Congress. For the Republicans, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is expected to maintain his position as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee while Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX-12th) will be the new Ranking Member for the House Appropriations Committee. Little disruption is expected for committee leadership in the next Congress, but the incredible amount of turnover that took place during the election will ensure that every committee has many new (including many freshmen) members.