The Topline: Steptoe Appropriations Newsletter

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Senate Starts Up: Following months of delays, the Senate appropriations process is showing signs of life as three of the 12 appropriations subcommittees...
United States Government, Public Sector
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Senate Starts Up: Following months of delays, the Senate appropriations process is showing signs of life as three of the 12 appropriations subcommittees (Agriculture, MilCon-VA, and Leg Branch) have now received their FY25 funding allocations. The three subcommittees plan to release their bills after the July 4th recess and begin markups, while the remaining nine continue waiting in the wings.

As has been the case for the past few months, the hold-up is related to spending caps for defense vs. non-defense programs. This has been complicated by the Senate Armed Services Committee increasing defense spending to $923 billion in their version of the FY25 National Defense Authorization Act. Defense hawks will be keen to ensure defense spending increases are reflected in appropriations, while Democrats continue pushing for a commensurate increase to non-defense spending.

Chair Murray gave a speech on the Senate floor on the issue this week, arguing that the previously agreed upon spending caps are too restrictive. Chair Murray and Ranking Member Collins have a good working relationship, so we have faith they will be able to come to a resolution on this topline issue. That said, the House has adhered to the statutory caps, so regardless of what the Senate does, this will have to be reconciled between the chambers after the election.

House Back in Town: Coming off a huge primary victory, Chairman Tom Cole and House appropriators will continue the unrelenting pace of markups next week. Currently, they are on schedule to complete the remaining subcommittee markups next week and the remaining full committee markups the week of July 8. If all goes well, all 12 appropriations bills will be reported out of full committee by mid-July – putting them in an enviable position for conference.

Passing these bills across the House floor remains a top goal for Majority Leader Steve Scalise, but the hill gets tougher to climb with each measure. The House passed one appropriations bill last week (MilCon-VA). Next week, the House will consider Defense, State-Foreign Ops, and Homeland Security appropriations bills. These bills are chock full of policy which is appealing to Republicans, and weren't intended to attract many, if any, Democratic votes on the floor. It is what Chair Cole calls the House's "opening bid" to negotiations which will occur after the election. Despite this, House GOP leadership will have a difficult needle to thread to pass these bills on the floor.

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