Update on Relevant Congressional Action
House and Senate THUD Bills Stall, Congress Heads Home for August Recess
Both the House and Senate head out of town at the end of this week for a five week recess. Prior to departing, both chambers spent floor time this week in an attempt to pass their respective FY2014 Transportation Appropriations (THUD) measures before the break.
However, on Wednesday, House leaders pulled their bill from the floor calendar, indicating that they planned to turn to other matters and take up the bill again after the August recess. Statements from leadership indicated that they did not believe there would be time to finish consideration of the bill, with more than 50 amendments, prior to the end of the week. However, many believe that work stopped on the bill because Republicans learned that they did not have the votes to pass the final measure, which would have been a very public defeat.
Much the same happened on the Senate side. On Thursday, the chamber moved to invoke cloture, to begin the final voting process on the bill, having considered a handful of amendments throughout the week. However, Minority Leader McConnell encouraged his colleagues to vote against the bill, calling a vote for cloture a betrayal of the Senate’s commitment to adhere to the Budget Control Act in August of 2011, because of the higher funding levels. This appeal swayed enough Republicans to bring the cloture vote short of the necessary 60 yea votes.
Both chambers have publically stated that they will return to consideration of the THUD measures after the five week summer recess. However, there will be little time once they return to come to an agreement before the fiscal year ends on September 30th. Further complicating matters is the fact that the House is scheduled to take another recess the preceding week – that of September 23rd. That leaves just nine days in the month of September when the House is scheduled to be in session before the fiscal year ends.
Talk of the need for a continuing resolution (CR) to temporarily fund the government after September 30th has already begun. However, agreement on a CR is far from guaranteed. Even if Members can agree on a funding level for the CR, other issues may prevent an agreement. A small group of Republicans have indicated that they will not support a CR unless it includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as ObamaCare. While many in the Republican Party have dismissed this proposal, its proponents could still cause trouble for any funding agreement, should they choose to push the issue. Leaders in both the House and Senate, along with the White House, will spend August trying to broker a deal on spending levels, in order to move quickly when Congress returns.
See the June 28th update for more details on both the House and Senate THUD bills.