House Announces Ambitious July Goals
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has announced that he plans to make July a productive month for the House of Representatives. The Majority Leader announced that he would like to use the end of July as the deadline for the House to pass appropriations bills and other priority legislation. Congress has a lot of catching up to do as most congressional operations, other than COVID-19 related packages, have been stopped since early March. This puts Congress way behind schedule to pass all 12 appropriations bills before end of the fiscal year in September.
In a letter sent to all members of the House, Majority Leader Hoyer announced that he expects the House Appropriations Committee will start marking up all 12 appropriations bills in subcommittee and full committee at the end of June or beginning of July. Hoyer is also hoping to move priority legislation before the end of July including the defense authorization bill, a water projects bill, an infrastructure package, police reform legislation, and legislation to enhance the Affordable Care Act, as well as any additional COVID-19 related bills. In addition, Hoyer released an updated House calendar which has the August recess scheduled to begin after votes on July 31st and ending after Labor Day. Democrats are ready to cut recess short or push it back if legislative business isn't completed. Should Congress retain its traditional August recess, that would leave only one month for the House and Senate to agree on all 12 appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year.
The July goal for passing appropriations puts pressure on the House Appropriations Committee as they have not been able to do much work on the bills to date. The Committee has not released its markup schedule yet but several committee members have said they expected the committee to complete its work by the end of July. The Senate Appropriations Committee hasn't released its markup schedule either but Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) has said he hopes to begin marking up bills the third week in June. The turnaround to finish appropriations before the end of the fiscal year is further complicated by the fact that Congress has already spent nearly $2.5 trillion dollars on COVID-19 related funding/relief packages. The total fiscal year 2021 federal budget is expected to be around $1.5 trillion. This could make negotiations around appropriations very tricky with some members being concerned about such massive spending and may look to pair back “normal” appropriations.
Update provided by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP