2019 Budget Bills

 

In order to complete a 2019 budget, Congress must pass twelve different spending bills by October 1.  The House approach has been to bundle these bills into a handful of “minibus” spending packages.  The first minibus package, H.R. 5895 (115), which passed the House by a 235-179 vote, combines the Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and the Legislative Branch funding bills that has previously been approved by the House Appropriations Committee. 

 

The $147 billion House package includes increased funding for the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  While the bill increases DOE funding overall, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would receive a significant $2 billion budget cut.  The House bill also expedites repeal of the 2015 Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule, which is currently in the process of being withdrawn and replaced by the EPA. Of note in the VA section is increased funding for mental health services and homeless prevention services for veterans, as well as funding for veteran-focused opioid prevention and treatment programs.

 

After receiving the bill from the House, the Senate took up H.R. 5895 on June 18.  The Senate retained only the bill number, deleting the substance of the bill and replacing it with its respective spending bills that had passed the Senate Appropriations Committee.  The Senate is in the midst of a lengthy amendment process and has not yet passed its version of the bill.  Unlike the House version, the Senate bill maintains funding for the DOE’s renewable energy office and also does not block the existing WOTUS rule.