Kenneth Gold | July 27, 2015
Although no one expected any of the 12 appropriations bills to even be considered on the Senate floor, the House passed six of the spending bills and was on its way to passing two more before the August recess. Although Republicans have 54 seats in the Senate, it’s well short of a filibuster-proof majority, and a blanket filibuster threat by Democrats has prevented any of the FY16 appropriations bills from reaching the floor. House Appropriations Chair Harold Rogers (R-KY) however, has been determined all year to pass all 12 measures in the chamber, which Republicans effectively control.
On July 9, however, with the Interior-Environment appropriations bill on the floor and the Financial Services bill on deck, the process came to a sudden halt. Had minority Democrats discovered a parliamentary procedure to suddenly exert their power in a new and clever way? The bill was derailed not by Democrats, but by conservative Republicans who proposed an amendment to the Interior-Environment bill on the Confederate battle flag, which resulted in pulling the Financial Services bill from the floor as well.
When Congress returns in September, even agreeing on the terms of a continuing resolution will be challenging, given the sharp differences between the parties. The Confederate flag kerfuffle reveals that the deep intraparty division among Republicans is far from resolved, and will continue to be an obstacle to resolving the difficult budget issues ahead.