Lame-Duck: Spending CR Close

November 17, 2016

pic-uscapitol-flagAt the top of lawmakers’ to-do list this lame-duck session is a spending package. Initially, Senate GOP leadership was hopeful for a broad omnibus spending bill, however in recent days it looks more likely that a short-term extension will pass giving lawmakers—and namely the incoming administration—additional time to establish their spending priorities. Such a package is likely to extend current spending levels through March 31, 2017.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has been working with Vice President-elect Mike Pence in coalescing his delegation around the short-term extension which must be passed by Dec. 9. Several Senate lawmakers, including some in leadership and appropriators, have urged against such an extension, instead preferring to move forward on spending bills on which they’ve already completed work, rather than to have to take them up again with revised priorities under the incoming administration.

Another key piece of must-do legislation during the lame-duck appears to be very close to agreement: finalizing the conference report on the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Negotiators have been working on the bill for some time and have agreed to approve an additional $9 billion to the Pentagon’s budget request. While a final deal is very close, it still is unclear whether or not the NSBA-opposed provisions related to small-business contracting goals made the final cut.

House and Senate staffers are working on their respective versions of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 which would address flood-risk management, provide hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and potentially include funding for the water crisis in Flint, Michigan and Hurricane Matthew relief. Conferees continue work on reconciling their versions of energy bills (H.R. 8/S. 2012), however, progress has slowed. Adding drought language could spur lawmakers to act sooner rather than later given the dire situation in California.

And while various committees are holding hearings during the lame-duck, very little else is likely to be taken up given that the Trump administration will take over mid-January, and Republicans are likely to see a more clear path to many of their priorities than they will in the remaining days under President Obama.