Despite the lack of a budget resolution, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that the Senate would move forward on 2017 spending bills this month based on the overall spending levels set in legislation last fall.
With the House returning this week from a recess, appropriators there have also indicated that they plan to proceed with their work.
The fall legislation — the product of a bipartisan agreement — raised the cap on Fiscal 2017 discretionary spending by $30 billion beyond what earlier legislation set. (Discretionary spending requires annual approval from Congress.)
Many lawmakers in both parties had expressed concern about low levels of funding for various defense and domestic discretionary programs under earlier spending caps. Some conservative lawmakers, however, continue to call for rejecting last year’s agreement or for approval of cuts in mandatory spending such as Social Security and Medicare to make up the difference. Democrats would likely block either of those moves.
Budget resolutions should be considered a key first step in the appropriations process, and they also establish revenue and spending goals for the coming decade. Upholding last fall’s agreement would give Congress a better chance of approving all 12 appropriations bills for Fiscal 2017 before it starts Oct. 1.
McConnell’s plans for Senate appropriations work this month would be well ahead of usual practice. Unless the House can also find a way to move forward on next year’s budget, however, Washington will likely face another budget crisis this fall.
A Way to Move Forward on 2017 Budget (Concord Coalition)