Appropriations Before Authorizations?

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee (HAC-D) passed its version of the defense spending bill for Fiscal Year 2020, approving $690.2 billion in overall discretionary spending. This number is an increase from FY19 but, below what President Trump and Republicans wanted.

The bills will now move to the full House Appropriations Committee for a vote, as early as next week, and likely move to the House floor in June. Republicans are expected to continue voting ‘no’ on the bill as it moves to the full committee because the party thinks the topline spending number is too low and meaningless if not part of a broader budget deal.  Despite there not being an agreed topline in place, the House Appropriations Chairwoman Lowey is signaling a clear intent to keep the process moving.

Of note here, it is highly atypical for Congress to pass an appropriations bill BEFORE authorizing the funds through the passage of legislation like the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Although the Democrats on HAC-D crafted their bill to align with what the House Armed Services Committee is planning to authorize in their committee, that legislation has not yet passed out of committee.

Right now, we are continuing to watch as other appropriations bills move through their subcommittees to full committee markups. But, as we’ve stated in prior Quick Hits, until there is a budget agreement, it is unlikely Republicans will vote through any appropriations legislation, forcing Democrats to carry bills forward with party line votes.