Advocacy Update ~ September 16, 2019
Senate Starts Work on FY 2020 Spending Bills
Congress returned to Capitol Hill last week with an eye towards finishing up Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Appropriations. With the House having passed most of the spending bills earlier this year, attention was focused on the Senate.
On last week’s schedule was a markup of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) bill in its respective subcommittee on Tuesday and markup of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies (SFOPs) bill, as well as Labor-H, on Thursday in the full Appropriations Committee. However, partisan politics – over funding for the border wall and other potential policy riders, or amendments, — on Tuesday derailed the subcommittee meeting, and both bills were subsequently pulled from Thursday’s schedule. Both parties had agreed to no controversial policy riders in the two-year budget deal reached just before the August recess.
At the time of this writing, neither bill has been rescheduled for mark up.
The Senate did release the 302(b) allocations, which are the top line funding figures for each spending bill. SFOPs received a small increase ($800 million) over FY 2019 to $55 billion. Labor-H received approximately $182 billion.
With the end of the fiscal year on the horizon (September 30), it is all but certain that Congress will need to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open, although there is disagreement on how long a CR should last – until late November or mid-December. The House is expected this week to vote on a CR that would last until November 21. It is unclear if the Senate would introduce its own CR, to accommodate a White House “wish list” of anomalies, or spending adjustments, to the CR. These anomalies include freeing up funding for the border wall, which House Democrats will not include in the CR.
Update on the Trump Administration’s Foreign Assistance Review
In early September, Politico published details of the working draft of the Trump administration’s Foreign Assistance Review. The article highlighted that the administration could shift foreign assistance towards U.S. “friends and allies,” and would “stop sending aid to countries that do not side with it in international disputes or somehow align themselves with U.S. rivals such as China.” The plan would also end programs that address the underlying causes of why people join terrorist groups. In addition, it also suggests shifting more foreign assistance through bilateral channels, moving away from voluntary payments to UN institutions.
There is no indication when the Trump administration will release the final version of the plan, though it is expected soon. GHC will provide updates as we learn more.
This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Manager, Policy & Advocacy.