Democrats Delay Senate Appropriations Markups Amid Funding Spat


September 17, 2021 12:14 pm

Senate Democrats put off plans to consider some of their annual government funding bills next week due to Republican opposition, Senate Appropriations Committee spokesman Jay Tilton said in a statement Friday.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) “had hoped to consider additional bills” in the committee next week, but Republicans are opposed to further bills “until there is a budget agreement,” Tilton said.

The move highlights the lack of progress made toward a government funding deal as lawmakers have put off bipartisan talks on top-line defense and nondefense spending. House members will vote next week on a stopgap funding measure to avert a shutdown after the Sept. 30 deadline, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a letter to colleagues Friday.

The panel was expected to hold markups next week on the Transportation-HUD spending bill, according to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and the Legislative Branch spending bill, according to Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.). Collins is the ranking member of the Transportation-HUD Subcommittee and Reed is the chairman of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee.

Republicans planned to attend the markups and vote against the bills, after briefly considering a boycott, Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters Tuesday.

Tilton’s statement said the markups were put off because Republicans decided to “block movement.” He declined to say whether that referred to an anticipated boycott of the markups or simply Republican opposition to the bills.

“Republicans were planning to go to markup but would have simply voted ‘no’ on the bills, in the same way that the Democrats did previously,” Blair Taylor, spokeswoman for Shelby, said in a statement.

Taylor said Republicans have been “stonewalled in efforts to negotiate a deal on defense/non-defense spending.”

“Democrats have refused a productive FY22 process by blocking all efforts to reach an agreement on topline numbers, policy riders, and poison pills,” Taylor said. “It is clear to everyone involved that having an agreement on those things is the only path to success in the Senate.”

The Appropriations Committee is evenly divided between the two parties. In the event of a tie vote in the full committee, under the Senate’s power-sharing agreement, Leahy could transmit a notice to the Senate and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) could seek to bring the bill to the floor through a motion to discharge, which would be subject to four hours of debate.

Senate appropriators marked up three bills in August, advancing the Agriculture-FDA (S. 2599), Energy and Water (S. 2605), and Military Construction-VA (S. 2604) spending bills by 25-5 votes. But Republicans warned appropriations bills wouldn’t pass on the floor without a broader agreement on defense and nondefense spending levels.

Leahy has called for bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on top-line spending levels, but also thinks appropriators should continue working on their bills despite the lack of an agreement, Tilton said in the statement.

“The Chairman has been working across the aisle for months now to draft additional bipartisan bills that could have, and should have, been reported from the Appropriations committee with majority votes,” Tilton said. “He has been calling for bipartisan, bicameral, negotiations, to establish topline spending between defense and nondefense programs, and he will continue to press for progress on this front. But the Committee has work to do in the meantime and it should be doing it.”