Emergency Supplemental Distracts From Regular Order

Posted July 18, 2014 at 4:55pm

The Obama administration’s emergency supplemental appropriations request is further complicating efforts to move fiscal 2015 spending bills, soaking up time and energy during a critical work period with an already long to-do list.

What, exactly, Congress should do to stem the influx of child migrants on the Southwest border and whether the money for such actions should be offset is continuing to divide lawmakers in both parties. House Republicans appear to be splintering somewhat as leaders decide how to approach the issue. Even Speaker John A. Boehner indicated this week that he is losing confidence in the idea Congress could pass compromise legislation before the August recess.

“I would certainly hope so, but I don’t have as much optimism as I’d like to have,” Boehner told reporters on Thursday.

The Senate appears to be holding off on making any moves until the House passes its plan, further pushing back the time it could take to work out a consensus proposal.

Consideration of the previously unexpected $3.7 billion request diverts committee and floor time away from the consideration of other regular fiscal 2015 appropriations bills, increasing the likelihood the supplemental may be the only appropriations measure, beyond a stop-gap spending bill, that could make it through both chambers of Congress before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year.

Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski acknowledged that the White House’s request for $3.7 billion in emergency funds has distracted lawmakers from some work on regular spending bills.

The Maryland Democrat said the request, which was first publicized over the July Fourth recess, took much of the steam out of talks to revive a $126.2 billion, three-in-one package of spending bills that had previously been pulled from the Senate floor.

“I’ve now got to talk with my members about how we’re going to sequence this,” Mikulski said earlier this month, referring to the supplemental and other fiscal 2015 spending bills.