Political Report: 7/10/2019
Main Story: House to Pass NDAA as Budget Deadline Draws Near
Now that the 4th of July recess is behind us, the last major piece of defense legislation that is likely to pass prior to a budget deal will move forward in the House of Representatives. The FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 2500, passed out of committee in June but faces a tricky floor fight. In the committee, the vote for the legislation broke largely along party lines, a major shock given that the NDAA is typically bipartisan. This may create problems for the bill on the floor where it is unlikely to now attract much Republican support. The House Progressive Caucus, representing the liberal wing of the House Democratic caucus, may not come around to support the legislation. Given that Democrats only have a margin of 18 votes to work with, this may spell doom for the bill on the floor. If by the end of the week CSPAN starts showing a lot of shots of the Capitol dome while waiting for the call of the chair, it will be clear that the votes aren’t there to pass this with just Democratic support.
Whether or not the NDAA gets through the House, it is unlikely much more progress will be made on defense spending bills this summer. The Senate has passed its version of the NDAA but has so far held off on marking up appropriations bills while waiting for a budget deal between Congress and the White House. In the House, the NDAA is the last piece of legislation that needs to move through the chamber, as the defense appropriations were passed last month as part of a broader minibus funding bill.
More broadly, it appears that budget talks between Congressional leaders and the White House have not gone well. While there is still quite a bit of legislative time (the House has more than 20 session days between now and the end of fiscal year 2019), it is increasingly clear that this will be yet another year without ‘regular order’ and the consideration of individual appropriations bills by both chambers. Fundamentally, the questions around spending levels and immigration policy remain unanswered and it is unclear how the stark divide between House Democrats and the White House on these issues can be resolved. A continuing resolution to start FY2020 is highly likely, but the threat of a shutdown remains significant. However, it is unlikely any deal will be made prior to the end of July given Congress’ predilection for waiting until the last minute on such difficult issues.
The House will take up a series of bills on financial services, the NDAA, and potentially legislation regarding policies on the border. The last piece of legislation is a late addition, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi seeks to mend some rifts in her caucus following a divisive vote on an emergency border supplemental prior to the 4th.
The Senate will work on mostly nominations this week.
Congressional Defense Activity
- No hearings this week
- 7/9 ‘Implementation of the National Defense Strategy in the United States Southern Command Area of Responsibility’, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, SR-222 Russell, 3pm
- 7/11 ‘Nominations – General Mark A. Milley, USA’, Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
- 7/11 ‘Southern Command (CLOSED)’, H-140 Capitol, 2pm
- No hearings this week
- 7/10 ‘Defense Cooperation: Use of Emergency Authorities Under the Arms Export Control Act’, Full Committee Hearing, SD-419 Dirksen, 1015am
- 7/11 ‘Human Rights in Cuba: Beyond the Veneer of Reform’, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade, 2172 Rayburn, 10am
- 7/11 ‘The State Department and USAID FY2020 Operations Budget’, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations’, 2172 Rayburn, 3pm