On Thursday the House voted 112-305 to reject the FY17 Energy and Water spending bill after the bill was bogged down with controversial amendments on wide-ranging topics like the Iran nuclear agreement, sanctuary cities, the North Carolina transgender bathroom law, and protections for LGBT individuals.
Given that this is only the second FY17 spending bill to be considered by the House this year, it is unclear how House leadership will proceed with future appropriations bills.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R- KY) said the setback would not sink the overall appropriations process, but admitted that Republican leaders would have to “adapt to the circumstances” and possibly do away with the open amendment process being used now in the House for consideration of appropriations bills.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders are considering revising budget rules so that amendments to spending bills must be pre-filed in the Congressional Record before they can be offered on the House floor. This move comes in response to a controversial amendment to the recently passed Military Construction-VA bill that was aimed at preventing federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees.
On Tuesday, the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) and Transportation-HUD spending bills were advanced by the House Appropriations Committee. For more information on these draft bills see here and here.
In the Senate, the Defense and Homeland Security bills were approved unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. See here for more details on the draft Defense spending bill, and here for Homeland Security.
We have heard that the Senate Labor HHS bill may be marked up in subcommittee on June 7 and full committee on June 9, but nothing has been officially announced yet.
The Senate began consideration this week on its annual defense authorization bill, but stalled after more than 75 amendments had piled up to be debated. Some of the controversial amendments include restrictions on procuring the Russian-built RD-180 engines, Guantanamo Bay, and sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) said he anticipates formally proceeding on the $602 billion defense policy measure (S. 2943) starting June 6, the Monday the Senate returns from the Memorial Day recess.
The Department of Education released proposed rules (see attached) on Thursday, which seeks to clarify the details of the Every Student Succeeds Act (PL 114-95), the current iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act signed into law last year.
Under proposed regulations, states would be able to rate schools on a number of factors, such as graduation rate, how students are doing on tests and achievements in reading and math. Those indicators would also need to be applied to individual groups of students, such as low-income students, students with disabilities, English-learners and all major racial and ethnic groups.
While GOP lawmakers pushed for minimal federal interference in states’ policymaking, Education Secretary John B. King has asserted the department’s responsibility under the law to implement guardrails ensuring minority and low-income students are treated equitably.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he was still reviewing the proposed rules on Thursday but threatened to overturn any final rule that didn’t implement the law the way Congress intended.
The proposed rules will be open for comment for 60 days, and final rules are expected later this year. The Education department is expected to issue additional proposed rules under the law.
The House and Senate have adjourned for the Memorial Day recess and will not be in session next week. The next Weekly Legislative Update will cover June 6-10 when Congress returns to Washington.