Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Senate passes first FY2020 appropriations package

In an 84-9 vote today, the Senate passed H.R. 3055, a package of fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills which include Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment and Transportation-HUD spending. The $214 billion four-bill minibus marks the first series of bills approved by the whole Senate and an important milestone for finalizing spending levels.

While there are key differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed versions of the bills, that is usually to be expected and often hashed out over conference committee meetings between Congressional leaders before identical bills are presented again to both chambers before they are sent to the president.

Progress isn’t guaranteed, however, as there are numerous disagreements in the Senate over the remaining funding measures. After approving the package, the Senate failed to overcome an initial 60-vote threshold to start debate on a second fiscal package, which included Defense, Labor-HHS-Education, State Foreign-Operations and Energy-Water for FY2020. Senate Democrats objected as they argued Senate Republican leadership had not engaged them at all in negotiating the spending levels of the bills they were asked to debate and that the funding was unreasonably low for certain measures.

Additionally, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) noted that lawmakers have yet to talk in detail about a stopgap measure to fund the government past the current November 21 deadline set out by the last continuing resolution.

Much is left to do for both chambers and both parties, but progress is slowly being made. NALC will be sure to keep letter carriers up to date on the latest movement of the appropriations process.

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