Issue Tracker: Beyond Recess

Issue Tracker: Beyond Recess

Both the House and Senate have left Washington for a two-week recess, off to schmooze constituents and potential campaign funders. When lawmakers get back to work the week of April 13, they will find a busy agenda. Just how much the Republican-led Congress can get done in the current political environment, however, remains very much in question.

Issue: Budget Conference

What’s happening: In a weeks-long process filled with drama and GOP-on-GOP infighting in the House, both chambers managed to pass different versions of a 2016 federal budget resolution. Both resolutions were written to existing spending caps, and would give the congressional defense committees $499 billion in base Pentagon budgetary authority as they craft their annual policy and spending bills. The House-passed measure would take the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to $96 billion, up from $50.9 billion in the Obama administration’s request. The Senate-approved resolution also remains under the caps, and calls for an $89 billion war fund.

What to watch: The measures now head for a bicameral conference committee tasked with producing a version that can pass the House and Senate. In the former, GOP negotiators will be thinking about a version that can garner 217 Repub­lican votes. Thus, it must appease enough defense hawks to reach that threshold. In the Senate, GOP negotiators also must keep that chamber’s defense caucus in mind — and poten­tial procedural provisions that could be slipped into the confer­ence measure, making it tough for appropriators to actually allocate more OCO dollars. The deadline for a final version is April 15.

Read More:Issue Tracker: Beyond Recess.

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