Seven months into Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 and Congress (in what has become a too-common pattern) passed a week-long continuing resolution (CR), H.J.Res.99, to keep the federal government open while they scrambled to put the finishing touches on an omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year. Congress has until midnight on May 5 to approve the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (H.R. 244), which consists of the 11 unfinished FY 2017 appropriations bills. The omnibus, which was released at 2am Monday morning, provides $1.07 trillion in base spending for FY 2017 ($1.16 trillion including Overseas Contingency Operations funding).
The Trump White House is proposing to cut $18 billion from a variety of domestic programs and foreign aid accounts in ongoing talks on a wrap-up spending package for the ongoing 2017 budget year....
At COL’s annual Public Policy Forum two weeks ago, Representative Don Young (AK-At Large) emphatically proclaimed, “The president doesn’t write the budget … the United States Congress writes the budget! … It’s up to us to spend the money.” While the legislative branch is responsible for drafting and passing the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund the federal government, the president kicks off the process with his release of the president’s budget request. Last Thursday, President Trump did just that, laying out his blueprint for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 in a 53-page “skinny budget” titled, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.”
It was a busy week on Capitol Hill for President Trump, with news on Monday of bold plans for his Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 presidential budget and three of his least contentious Cabinet nominees advancing in the Senate. According to White House officials, the president’s FY 2018 budget proposal (which is slated to be released in full on March 16) would increase military spending by $54 billion and cut nondefense discretionary programs (those funded by Congress on an annual basis, such as education, scientific research, infrastructure, national parks, and environmental protection) by the same amount, worrying agencies that support these programs, including the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. While it is not a given that the House and Senate’s appropriation bills align with the president’s budget request, the document serves as a marker for White House priorities and policy initiatives.
Though Valentine’s Day might be right around the corner, love was not in the air between members of the House Committee on Natural Resources during their first organizational meeting, where the committee evaluated and adopted governing rules for the current Congress. With little debate, the majority unanimously rejected all nine proposed Democratic amendments before accepting the new Authorization and Oversight Plan and committee rules.
With consistent pledges by President Trump to address infrastructure, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is gearing up for the opportunity to be at the forefront of national policymaking.
A two-for-one deal on regulations issued by President Donald Trump’s Executive Order last week requires federal agencies to eliminate at least two existing regulations for every new one implemented. This was one of the central themes discussed in a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee that focused on reducing regulatory burdens.
It took only 25 minutes for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to advance 16 bills this week, including several of relevance to the ocean science community. Many of the measures were considered during the 114th Congress, and most had bipartisan support.
What does the Department of Commerce, most often regarded for its responsibility in creating conditions for economic growth and opportunity, have to do with the ocean? Within the department lies the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), placed there by an irate President Richard Nixon to keep it out of the control of the Secretary of the Interior (with whom he was feuding). The result is a commerce department with a wide-ranging spectrum of duties that include monitoring weather, enforcing international trade agreements, and regulating exports. On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a confirmation hearing for Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump’s Department of Commerce secretary nominee. Mr. Ross is a billionaire investor and a political newcomer with a long history in the steel, textile, automotive, and coal industries.
With the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) dominating congressional news this week, one important tidbit might have slipped by – Congress passed a budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 3) that would increase the deficit by $9 trillion from Fiscal Years (FY) 2018-2026.