The Political Report 12/4/19

 In Weekly Wire

Main Story: Funding Deadline Approaches with No Resolution in Sight

On December 20, the continuing resolution (CR) currently providing funding to the US government will end. As of now, there is no clear sense of what will take its place. Despite having repeatedly announced breakthroughs, Congress and the White House still have not come to an understanding on how to handle the primary issue blocking the passage of appropriations: funding for the border wall. As such, the prospects for appropriations appear slim. Most reporting seems to indicate that another CR into next year is receiving serious consideration.

However, it is worth noting that there will be considerable pressure on Congress to make a deal before Christmas. The Department of Defense has started to make clear how damaging it finds operating under a CR to be. While this is hardly determinative, it certainly adds pressure to get a resolution.

Furthermore, the timeframe within which Congress is likely to act prior to the 2020 election is drawing close. Failure to pass appropriations this month will push a CR until February and the heart of the Democratic primary season. At that point the math for any funding deal starts to shift as any concessions by Democratic leadership will potentially face pushback from various primary candidates. Similarly, the closer the 2020 election draws, the more members of the House and Senate will begin to make calculations based on their own feelings of electoral vulnerability. All of this could make it even more difficult to work out the whip count to pass controversial funding legislation.

Overall, while passing appropriations prior to Christmas would be a significant lift, it would hardly be unprecedented. The main sticking points now that funding levels have been resolved remain the question of the border wall and a smaller dispute over Title X funding restrictions. Should some resolution on these items be found, moving the legislation as one large omnibus bill could be done swiftly. As always, stay tuned.

The hang-up on the issue of wall funding has also stymied progress on the National Defense Authorization Act. While this legislation has been passed each year for 58 years, disputes over how to restrict the Administration’s ability to transfer money to pay for its border wall appear likely to block consideration of the bill, pending a broader agreement on the wall.

House Activity

The House will look at legislation related to SEC regulations as well as legislation attempting to thwart the rising scourge of robocalls.

Senate Activity

The Senate will continue to work on nominations.

Congressional Defense Activity

  •  HFAC
    • 12/4 “The Importance of the New START Treaty,” Full Committee Hearing, 2172 Rayburn, 2pm
  • SFRC
    • 12/3 “The Future of U.S. Policy Towards Russia,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-419 Dirksen, 945am
    • 12/4 “Oversight of the Millennium Challenge Corporation,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-419 Dirksen, 10am
    • 12/4 “Lebanon and Iraq Protests: Insights, Implications, and Objectives for U.S. Policy,” Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism, SD-419 Dirksen, 230pm
    • 12/5 “Illicit Mining: Threats to U.S. National Security and International Human Rights,” Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, SD-419 Dirksen, 10am
  • SASC
    • 12/3 “Government Accountability Office on Privatized Housing Findings to Include Responses from the Military Services on Ongoing Reports of Substandard Housing Conditions and Services,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
    • 12/4 “United States Navy Ship and Submarine Maintenance,” Subcommittee on Seapower and Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, SD-106 Dirksen, 10am
    • 12/4 “Servicemember, Family, and Veteran Suicides and Prevention Strategies,” Subcommittee on Personnel, SR-222 Russell, 230pm
  •  HASC
    • 12/5 “Privatized Housing: Are Conditions Improving for Our Military Families?,” Subcommittee on Readiness, 2118 Rayburn, 1pm
    • 12/5 “Military Health System Reform: A Cure for Efficiency and Readiness?,” Subcommittee on Military Personnel, 2212 Rayburn, 2pm
  •  SAC-D
    • No hearings this week
  •  HAC-D
    • No hearings this week
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