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Appropriations for 2022 occupy a Chamber which, this week, is devoted to committee business. While the Senate has a new round of nominations to consider, Federal Drive with Tom Temin reviewed the coming week with Bloomberg government editorial director Loren Duggan.
Tom Temin: Loren, let’s start with the House. Actual budget work over 2022.
Loren Duggan: That’s right. It’s another busy week for officials who spent their time just before the July 4th recess making a lot of progress on bills, passing six of them to committee and two more to subcommittee. . And they have set themselves the goal of completing their work, at least at the committee level, by this Friday. So by this Friday we will have 12 supply bills through committee and ready for groundwork, maybe later this month, trying to make some progress on these very bills. important. While the progress we’ve seen doesn’t necessarily mean we’re so close to a final group of bills that could be in place by the start of the fiscal year on October 1, it’s at least a way for the House to do its initial work to initiate this process. As you know, it started late this year, as the Biden budget requests came in later than – certainly the law requires, but we received a discretionary request in April and then a full request in May. This therefore slowed down some work. But the Appropriators have used as much as they can over the past few weeks that they’ve been in the sessions to go through those 12 bills, and at least put their marker down for what they’d like to see.
Tom Temin: And the Senate, are they usually the ones who are behind on those 12 bills and end up with some sort of omnibus and any hint of this similar process going on on the Senate side?
Loren Duggan: They haven’t started writing their invoices yet. And Patrick Leahy and Richard Shelby, who are the Democrats and Republicans who head this committee, talked for a while about trying to get a deal on a high spending amount so their jobs would be easier. House Democrats have the luxury of a slightly larger majority, the ability to get whatever they want through committee and on the floor and even through the floor, as long as they can get a simple majority, they can get their bills passed. In the Senate, obviously, it takes 60 votes to do things like the spending package they should be doing either individual bills or an omnibus, so Republicans have a bigger role to play there. And right now with the 50/50 Senate, even to get something in committee, you really need a Republican vote for Democrats to make sure these bills can come out and be tabled. Although, as we have seen, even when things are fairly divided, there are ways to force votes. But we could see more action in the Senate later this month, potentially increases, and set things up for possible negotiations. But there is still no handshake agreement between the parties and the two chambers on the total amount to be spent. The chamber has given itself a number to work with the Senate which will try to determine it. And we’ll see where that takes us towards the start of the fiscal year on October 1. But we’re probably looking at a fairly busy winter, as lawmakers will try to wrap up this work as the holiday season approaches.
Tom Temin: Yeah, so the CR is going to come in anyway, and then at the end of the fiscal year, looks like the end of summer there. And on a related question, what is the status of the infrastructure now, because there was all this fanfare about a deal the president would sign, not sign, but it’s really stalled since then, no. is this not ?
Loren Duggan: Well, there was a handshake deal on a bipartisan infrastructure plan. But it has not yet been the subject of law. This is something that Senate committees have spent the last two weeks working on, taking a table with numbers and conceptual ideas and drafting actual legislation that will likely span several hundred, if not thousands, of pages. . There are two tracks going on: there’s the bipartisan plan, which mirrors the deal between President Biden and some Republican and Democratic senators, and then there’s the reconciliation part that would move some of the things that were in the plan forward. American for the job of President Biden and American Families The regimes that fall outside the scope of this bipartite agreement. So we’ll probably see votes in July on some parts of that, probably the bipartisan infrastructure plan that’s ready. And then the budget resolution that would put in place this reconciliation legislation later. We can see that it comes from the budget committee and ends up on the floor of the Senate. These are the top two priorities for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over the next two weeks of sessions.
Tom Temin: We chat with Loren Duggan, Editorial Director of Bloomberg Government. And what are some of the Senate appointments this week?
Loren Duggan: Well, on the floor, there’s a State Department nomination vote tonight, and then we’ll probably see another Labor Department nomination vote. But you know, these are now entering some of the second and third levels of some of these departments after all the cabinet positions have been filled. But there are still a lot of open positions across government, obviously, that committees will deal with by holding hearings, taking markups, and then trying to get them to the floor where the Senate will deal with those nominations pending that. bipartite infrastructure plan. And part of this reconciliation legislation. We will see hearings this week on the candidate for Secretary of the Navy and other appointments, I believe, as HHS and Commerce. So there’s a lot of work done by committees trying to process these nominations. Besides, speaking time is quite precious in the Senate, but they treat them as they can.
Tom Temin: Yeah, I’m guessing there’s a slew of nominations coming up for the MoD, too, which they’ll likely take beyond that.
Loren Duggan: That’s right. So, you know, we’ll have the Secretary of the Navy and a few others and then I’m sure there’s more to come as the Armed Services Committee takes care of it and begins to shift its attention to the Act as well. the authorization of national defense, which will be all important for these candidates to carry out if they are confirmed and put into office.
Tom Temin: Very good. And also, I read from Bloomberg that the postal service budget is under discussion for this week.
Loren Duggan: That’s right. Even as officials draft these bills and figure out how to fund the government, agencies are still appearing before different committees to justify what they have asked for, for fiscal year 2022. One of the agencies, like you mentioned, is the postal service. . Now their role in the federal budget is not that important. But there is money in one of the appropriation bills that helps fund postal operations, including things like free mail which the government helps offset the cost of, and also some very important writers in the country. over time, as you must have a six day mail, and you should not close rural post offices. But I think a lot of this will focus on a few of the issues I’m sure a number of lawmakers have heard from their constituents over the past few months regarding the mail delay or their concerns. regarding packages, not arriving on time, whatever the case. So whenever you have someone to bring in front of you and ask tough questions, you are going to take advantage of it. And I’m sure it will be an interesting audience from that point of view.
Tom Temin: Loren Duggan is Editorial Director of Bloomberg Government. As always, thank you very much for joining me.
Loren Duggan: Thank you.