Republican leaders in the House and Senate are planning on passing by Dec. 9 a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through the end of March.
GOP leaders say they are honoring President-elect Donald Trump’s request to delay a major budget overhaul until he is in office. House and Senate leaders reached a deal on Nov. 17 to pass a package that would fund by Dec. 9 the government at 2016 levels.
In a Nov. 17 press briefing, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the Trump transition team “would like a say-so in how the money is spent for the rest of the fiscal year.” The Republican Party “has a lot of priorities we’d like to see changed from the Obama’s administration’s priorities,” he said, adding that lawmakers will have more time to put their stamp on how federal dollars are spent if they wait until the new administration is in office.
The Huffington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is floating the idea of extending the CR through May to enable lawmakers to focus on confirming nominees for top administration posts during the first months of 2017.
Industry officials say they are disappointed that Congress will circumvent the normal appropriations process. A stopgap measure “creates uncertainty where uncertainty is not needed” and, as a result, slows down construction starts, says Jeff Shoaf, Associated General Contractors of America’s senior executive director of government affairs.
In July, the House passed an appropriations bill to add funding above 2016 enacted levels for both the drinking-water and wastewater state revolving funds. The companion bill did not advance beyond the committee in the Senate, however.
Diane VanDe Hei, CEO of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, says the CR is the last must-pass legislation of the year. Many political observers expect lawmakers to pass the CR by Dec. 9 and go home early. VanDe Hei says that does not bode well for the Water Resources
Development Act, which is being negotiated by a conference committee. Industry officials say the bill is likely to be relatively free of legislative riders, with one exception: aid for Flint, Mich., which has bipartisan support in both chambers.