Political Report: 9/24/2018

 In Political Report

Main Story: Only Six Days Left Before Fiscal Year 2018 Ends

It’s an odd week when the possibility of the federal government shutting down might only be the second or third biggest story in the news. Last week, the uproar over sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh drowned out two significant milestones in this year’s appropriations process. First, the President signed into law the MilCon/VA/Energy & Water/Legislative Branch appropriations minibus (H.R. 5895), marking the first time at least part of the government was funded prior to the end of the year since calendar year 2008. In addition, the Senate passed the conference version of the Department of Defense appropriations bill providing for full FY 2019 appropriations for the Department of Defense as well as for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health & Human Services. In addition, this appropriation contains a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the rest of the government through December 7th. The House is expected to pass this legislation, over the objection of some conservatives, later this week. Then it will go to the White House for the President’s signature, although it’s unclear if the White House will sign the bill or veto it.

Congressional leadership is desperate to avoid a shutdown, but the White House is torn between competing factions and has yet to take a clear position on the legislation. One faction in the White House believes that this is the best point of leverage for the White House to force through one of its top legislative priorities – the border wall with Mexico. Advocates of funding the wall believe that, should the Democrats retake the House, they will block any funding for the wall going forward. Furthermore, advocates for a veto assume that a big fight over the wall is a good way of motivating their base and limiting losses in November. Others in the White House share the belief that a shutdown prior to the election would exacerbate the headwinds facing Republicans in this fall’s election. The current strategy is to offer the administration the win of increased defense funding and attach the CR to it, but it is unclear whether this will be successful. Should the White House decide to veto the bill, Congress would be hard-pressed to avoid at least a brief government shutdown prior to the end of the fiscal year.

Key Dates & Appropriations Update:

  • September 30th – End of Fiscal Year 2018
  • November 6th – Election Day
  • December 13th – Last scheduled session day in 2018
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House Activity

The House is in session this week and will pass the DoD-Labor/HHS cromnibus, in addition to some messaging legislation, before recessing until after the election on Friday.

Senate Activity

The drama in the Senate will be in the Judiciary Committee, where Justice Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, will appear before the Committee on Thursday. This assumes no further changes in a story that is changing hourly. On the Senate floor, the Senate will work through other, less controversial nominations this week.

Congressional Defense Activity

  • HPSCI
    • No hearings this week
  • SSCI
    • 9/25 ‘Closed Hearing’, Full Committee Hearing, 219 Hart, 230pm
    • 9/27 ‘Closed Hearing’, Full Committee Hearing, 219 Hart, 2pm
  • HFAC
    • 9/26 ‘Genocide Against the Burmese Rohingya’, Full Committee Hearing, 2172 Rayburn, 10am
    • 9/26 ‘Countering Iranian Proxies in Iraq’, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, 2200 Rayburn, 2pm
    • 9/26 ‘China’s Repression and Internment of Uyghurs: U.S. Policy Responses’, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, 2172 Rayburn, 2pm
    • 9/27 ‘Markup’, Full Committee Markup, 2172 Rayburn, 10am
    • 9/27 ‘U.S. Policy Toward Syria (Part I)’, Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, 2172 Rayburn, 130pm
    • 9/27 ‘Europe and Eurasia: Ensuring Resources Match Objectives’, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, 2200 Rayburn, 2pm
    • 9/27 ‘China’s War on Christianity and Other Religious Faiths’, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, 2255 Rayburn, 2pm
  • SFRC
    • 9/25 ‘Nominations’, Full Committee Hearing, SD-419, Dirksen, 3pm
    • 9/26 ‘Nominations’, Full Committee Hearing, SD-419 Dirksen, 230pm
    • 9/26 ‘Business Meeting’, Full Committee Meeting, S-116 The Capitol, 11am
  •  SASC
    • 9/25 ‘Nominations – Abrams – Faller’, Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
    • 9/26 ‘OPEN/CLOSED: Cyber Operational Readiness of the Department of Defense’, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Subcommittee on Personnel Joint Hearing, SD-160 Dirksen, 230pm
  • HASC
    • 9/26 ‘The Impact of National Defense on the Economy, Diplomacy, and International Order’, Full Committee Hearing, 2141 Rayburn, 10am
    • 9/26 ‘U.S. Strategy in Syria’, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, 2123 Rayburn, 330pm
    • 9/27 ‘Update on Military Review Board Agencies’, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, 2322 Rayburn, 330pm
    • 9/28 ‘Contributing Factors to C-130 Mishaps and Other Intra-Theater Airlift Challenges’, Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, HVC-210 The Capitol, 9am
  • SAC-D
    • No hearings this week
  • HAC-D
    • No hearings this week

Government Activity Round-up

Nothing of interest at CBO or GAO this week, so we will instead call attention to some new research released here at Avsacent. On September 13, Senior Market Analyst Aaron Lin released a second data story on Japan’s F-3 program. The original data story highlighted trends in RDT&E spending by Japan and how accommodating a 5th generation fighter program would be difficult. The new story fleshes that out further by looking at various cost scenarios for the program, and explores how supplemental budgets could potentially create space for additional spending in the base budget. Check it out here.

Second, Rachel Jenkins, a Principal here at Avascent, and Consultant Stephanie Stahl, put together a graphic looking at how spending in HHS would rise under the appropriations deal that passed the Senate. While the fate of the deal depends on the White House, this infographic provides a good sense of how HHS spending for FY19 will shake out whenever appropriations are eventually resolved. Take a look here.

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