Senate May Step ahead of House on Appropriations

The Senate possibly could move ahead of the House in considering fiscal 2017 spending measures as the House GOP remains hung up over topline spending and has not yet adopted a budget blueprint for the next fiscal year.

In the absence of a budget resolution or a deeming resolution — an alternative mechanism for setting topline spending — the House may have to wait until May 15 to take up individual appropriations bills on the floor. The Senate appears ready to move spending bills to the floor later this month, with the military construction-veterans affairs title anticipated to be marked up in subcommittee next week, reported CQ Roll Call.

The House Appropriations Committee plans to mark up its milcon spending bill when the chamber returns to Washington next week; the measure was approved in subcommittee March 23.

If the Senate takes the lead in considering appropriations, leaders would use an unfinished spending bill passed by the House last year as a shell to move fiscal 2017 legislation in order to comply with the requirement that revenue measures originate in the House.

The Senate likely will skip passing an FY 2017 budget resolution and simply adhere to the defense and nondefense spending levels in last October’s two-year budget deal.

Early action by the Senate on individual appropriations bills, though, ultimately may not speed up the process and may just be a tactic to jump start action in the House, according to the story.

“You can never tell these days, up there, whether the leadership on both sides of the aisle is trying to send messages to people, trying to ratchet up pressure on people,” said Jim Dyer, former GOP staff director of the House Appropriations Committee. “It’s a little bit of a shell game and I’m afraid only the people who hold the shells have the answer to it.”

As in past years, lawmakers likely will resort to a continuing resolution to keep the government running starting Oct. 1.

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