Senate Markups Start; House Eyes Santos Access: Budget Brief

July 8, 2024 12:36 pm

Defense spending, federal telework, and a measure to keep expelled former Rep. George Santos off the House floor are among the issues facing lawmakers this week, as both chambers face one of their busiest weeks of the year on government-funding bills.

The House is set to hold six markups in the House Appropriations Committee and vote on one funding bill on the floor. The Senate is set to hold its first markups of the year on three bills in the full Appropriations Committee.

This week will put a spotlight on the House-Senate rift over how much money to spend overall in the fiscal 2025 appropriations process. House Republicans reneged on an agreement to allow a 1% increase across the board, instead planning a 6% cut to nondefense funds. Senate Republicans, and many colleagues in the House, have said they’d like a bigger increase for the military. But Democrats in both chambers have said any boost to defense would have to be matched by an equal increase to nondefense.

Senate appropriators are set to mark up their Agriculture-FDA, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-VA spending bills Thursday, and to vote on the full slate of top-line allocations for all 12 fiscal 2025 funding bills. Last year, Senate Democrats set the top-line allocations and the individual bills were negotiated in a mostly bipartisan way.

House Republicans aim to pass their Legislative Branch appropriations bill this week, which would be their fifth funding bill passed this year — a smoother start to the process than members saw last year.

Santos (R-N.Y.), the expelled former representative, would be kept off the House floor — and out of the congressional gym and dining facilities, among other restrictions — under an amendment offered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.).
The provision, which doesn’t mention Santos by name, would broadly bar any former member of Congress who was expelled from office from the House floor, Senate floor, and other facilities typically provided to former members of Congress. It would also bar expelled members from the United States Association of Former Members of Congress, a nonprofit that includes the Congressional Study Groups, which organize legislative exchanges with US allies.

Another amendment, offered by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), would strike a provision to block an automatic raise for members of Congress. House appropriators initially left the measure out of the bill, allowing for the possibility of the first congressional pay raise since 2009, but they added it back in during a markup.

Reps. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) and Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.) offered a measure to allow immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals designation to work for the Legislative Branch.

The House Rules Committee meets today to determine which amendments to the Legislative Branch bill will get votes.

House appropriators are set to mark up six bills: Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, and Energy and Water tomorrow, and Labor-HHS-Education, Transportation-HUD, and Agriculture-FDA on Wednesday.

The bills cover a wide range of policy disputes. Democrats objected to the Commerce-Justice-Science bill’s cuts to the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. They also criticized the steep cuts to agencies under the Labor-HHS-Education bill, which add up to an 11% cut overall.

House Republicans also plan to include directives calling for more telework transparency in the report accompanying their Labor-HHS-Education bill. One provision would direct agencies to publicly post online how many employees come to work in person in Washington, and another would demand an accounting of Education Department and Health and Human Services employees who receive Washington-area locality pay but don’t frequently work in office.

The Agriculture-FDA, Energy and Water, and Transportation-HUD bills are also major vehicles for earmarks. The House Appropriations Committee has posted PDF documents with all the earmarks included in its funding bills.