Government affairs

Legislative Updates

FY 2018 budget process continues without road map

The appropriations process in Congress continues with subcommittees slowly advancing markups while deprived of a guiding budget resolution. Neither the House nor Senate—both Republican-controlled—have been able to finalize a budget, one of Congress' most fundamental jobs.

Traditionally, the appropriations process is kicked off with a guiding budget resolution that serves as a blueprint for the 12 individual appropriations measures considered each fiscal year. However, this year, like last year, Republicans have been unable to pass such a guiding resolution, opting instead to move forward without providing each subcommittee with individualized spending caps that would allow the subcommittees to determine their spending priorities. This failure has created difficulties and tension as the appropriations process advances.

Some of the delay in the House is due to staunch conservatives demanding large cuts in obligatory programs such as food stamps, while key committee chairs are resisting such broad strokes. House Freedom Caucus members have also suggested that program cuts may not be enough to convince them to support the effort, calling instead for heavy decreases in discretionary spending.

The Senate budget has also been delayed due primarily to ongoing health care talks. Such delays are problematic for Republicans as both chambers' budget bills will eventually need to be compared, and their differences reconciled, if they hope to use reconciliation tools to push through a tax reform package with a simple Senate majority.

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