Omnibus

Congress Set for Horse-Trading Over Must-Pass Bills in September
“Clean” debt limit increase will likely require Democrats’ support

North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker said a clean debt ceiling increase appears unlikely to pass without “more more increased spending and must-pass legislation to attract the necessary votes.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress’ September agenda is packed with several must-pass bills that Republicans and Democrats are likely to look to as leverage for extracting concessions on other priorities.

With a short legislative calendar next month — only 12 days when both chambers are scheduled to be in session (the Senate has a few extra days on its timetable) — some measures could be packaged together, creating even more leverage and risk. 

Bigly Inning

Ryan, McConnell’s Spending Hopes Could Be Dashed — Again
Time, inadequate preparation and Democrats spell doom for minibus strategy

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hope to finish the year with a series of small appropriations packages. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want to finish the year’s spending negotiations with a series of small appropriations packages known as minibuses. But a short legislative calendar, a lack of preparation, and Democratic concerns about the piecemeal approach make that goal a difficult one to achieve.

If the Republican leaders’ minibus dreams do not come true and Congress instead passes a massive omnibus appropriations measure — or even worse, another continuing resolution — it would be a pitiful bookend to a year in which Ryan and McConnell had listed restoring regular order to the appropriations process as the No. 1 item on their to-do list.

Obama to Stump for Anti-Heroin Plan as GOP Resists
Republicans want funds during appropriations process

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., hold a news conference in February to call for funding to address opioid abuse. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will headline a major summit on prescription drug and heroin abuse organized by a powerful House Republican who is trying to convince the party to fund the president's ambitious plan to fight the nationwide epidemic.  

With Republicans raising concerns about what kinds of initiatives Washington should be funding, Obama is expected to devote some of his remarks in Atlanta to press them to act. And, conveniently for Obama, one of the event’s organizers is a lawmaker who helps control the federal pocketbook: House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. The president also is expected to announce a set of administrative actions that will not require congressional approval. A major thrust of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats has been to use federal dollars to help expand treatment for most vulnerable populations.