Yesterday, the U.S. House appropriations process broke down amid the strains of budgeting under sequestration. The House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill was pulled from the floor of the chamber before a final vote could take place. Support for the measure, which would have been the first nondefense discretionary spending bill debated by the full House this year, dropped precipitously as members found out just how deep the cuts would go.
The House Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations subcommittee was set to hold a hearing to release and discuss their spending bill last week; however, this hearing was postponed indefinitely with no reason given. The appropriation levels were expected to be quite low in this bill and it is widely assumed that no appropriator on the subcommittee would want to be associated with the bill that would inflict the deep cuts required.
These developments almost guarantee that no nondefense discretionary spending bill will pass the House during the current appropriations season, and the government will be funded on a continuing resolution until Congress and the White House come to an accord on federal spending. What this deal will look like is not clear, but it will most likely deal with sequestration only in the short term. Stay tuned to the Policy Blotter for further updates!
UPDATE: The day after the House THUD appropriations bill was pulled from the floor, the Senate THUD bill failed to gain enough support to break a filibuster. While Senate Republicans had joined with Democrats to vote the bill out of committee, the Republican caucus was nearly united in preventing the passage of the bill through the full Senate. This development also portends the end of the appropriations process in the Senate. Once lawmakers return from the August recess, they will have only nine working days to strike a deal to fund the government after Sep. 30.