August Washington D.C. Preview

August 5, 2019

QUICK FIX

— Appropriators prep over recess: Senate spending leaders are hoping to do as much work as possible during the August recess to make sure they can "hit the ground running" on funding the government before the Sept. 30 deadline, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) says. All 12 of the Senate's spending subcommittees will be getting their fiscal 2020 topline allowances, in effect, as Shelby hands down those so-called 302(b) allocations this month. In the House, appropriators are under less pressure to spend the district work period staking out funding priorities, since they already marked up all of their fiscal 2020 bills and passed 10 on the floor this summer. Those measures will need some revamping, however, to reflect about $5 billion more that the budget deal, H.R. 3877, allows for the military and about $15 billion less for non-defense spending.

 

— Late-summer USMCA push: The administration will work throughout August to reach a deal with House Democrats to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Lawmakers appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead negotiations said they sent the administration detailed proposals for changing the pact's provisions on labor, environment, pharmaceuticals and enforcement. Staff-level work during the recess is expected to focus on drafting legal language addressing those concerns.

 

— Housing finance overhaul: Treasury is expected to release its highly anticipated plan to overhaul the nation's housing finance system this month. President Donald Trump in March directed the department to come up with a proposal to end more than a decade of government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the companies behind about half of the country's mortgages. Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria,