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The 2020 Budget Fight Isn’t Over Yet

Yuval Rosenberg

The Senate this week is expected to approve the $2.7 trillion deal on spending caps and the debt ceiling passed last Thursday by the House, and President Trump will sign it, his acting chief of staff said this weekend. That doesn’t necessarily mean this year’s budget battles are over, though.

Roll Call’s Jennifer Shutt and Niels Lesniewski report:

“The two chambers need to reach agreement on the 12 annual spending bills to flesh out the budget accord and avoid a repeat of the 35-day partial government shutdown of last December and January.

“The fiscal 2020 spending bills contain dozens of sticky issues, some of which have been solved before and some of which negotiators will have to wade through for the first time — all amid a background of increasing partisanship ahead of the 2020 elections.”

The House has already passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2020, but will need to rework some to match the details of the budget agreement. “They’ll also likely have to strike through many of the left-leaning policy riders that made the bills so appealing to liberal Democrats,” Shutt and Lesniewski say. The Senate, meanwhile, waited until a deal on spending caps was struck, meaning that it will rush to put together its spending bills before the fiscal year ends on September 30.

The Homeland Security bill is expected to once again be the most contentious. “I’m sure there’s going to be a fight over the border wall,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, according to Politico.

Just how heated that fight will get remains to be seen. Republican leaders reportedly hope that the budget deal will give Trump enough reason to shy away from another shutdown, including the ability to redirect certain funding from the Defense Department to his desired border wall. Friday’s Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for the administration to spend $2.5 billion on wall construction likely helps in that regard. But between the border wall, Immigration and Customs Enforcement funding and detention beds, the Homeland Security bill could be sidetracked by numerous points of contention.

One possible solution reportedly might be a stopgap spending bill that continues current DHS funding, with one unnamed senator telling Politico that such a stopgap could extend all the way to November 2020. But lawmakers aren’t sure how that idea will go over with Trump, and even those in his own party are reluctant to predict what the president will do, Politico’s Burgess Everett and Melanie Zanona reported:

“They don’t know how hard Trump will push for a border wall, not to mention other hot-button immigration provisions. If he won’t compromise with the Democrats who control the House, a shutdown fight could ensue — exactly what GOP leaders are eager to avoid heading into an election year.”

For a more complete look at the coming appropriations process, see Roll Call.

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