Director’s Desk

We’ve heard a lot about “unified control” of government this year, but we’ve seen just as often that in practice true control is nearly impossible to achieve.

Below, Josh delves into one key example of the governing challenges facing Republicans: the attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Elsewhere, the annual budget process continues to suffer from delays and disagreements that are making yet another Continuing Resolution seem like a near certainty for FY2018.

The FY18 House Budget Resolution, stalled for months, was finally passed out of committee last week. From here, however, the outlook remains murky at best. With Republicans from both ends of the spectrum expressing concern over required cuts and overall funding levels, and with only five days before the August recess, quick passage looks increasingly unlikely. Even if leaders can figure out a way to move it through the House, the plan faces an even more tenuous path through the Senate, where the majority is slimmer and many Republican Senators would prefer to focus on tax reform and leave deep spending cuts for another day. But here, too, passage of the budget is critical: it contains reconciliation instructions to the Ways and Means Committee for tax reform. Without it, Republican tax policy goals are imperiled.

Meanwhile, after a disappointing whip count led Republican House leaders to shelve plans for a vote on a massive omnibus package including all 12 annual appropriations bills, their strategy has turned to a 4-bill “minibus” – also being called a “security-bus” – that includes the Defense, MilCon-VA, Energy-Water, and Legislative Branch funding bills, as well as $1.6 billion in Homeland Security funds for border wall construction. While some conservative members have expressed concern with the smaller package, it’s unclear how many of them are prepared to actually vote against it when it comes up this week. Progress is even slower in the Senate, where only two bills have passed out of the Appropriations Committee and no Floor strategy has been announced.

Suffice it to say, an awful lot of issues – and even more uncertainty – await when Congress returns from its August recess, so stay tuned.  With that, we at GAI wish all of you a great summer and hope to see you in one of our classes this fall.