Omnibus Appropriations Bill Including Transportation, Homeland to Move in House in Early September

Omnibus Appropriations Bill Including Transportation, Homeland to Move in House in Early September

August 16, 2017  | Jeff Davis

August 16, 2017 – updated August 24 with amendments

This morning, the House Rules Committee announced a deadline of 10 a.m. on Friday, August 25 for House members to submit proposed amendments to eight appropriations bills for fiscal year 2018, including the Transportation-Housing bill and the Homeland Security bill.

The eight bills have been packaged together in a $439 billion, 1,305-page omnibus appropriations package called the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018, The text of the bill has ben posted online here as Rules Committee Print 115-31. (Transportation-HUD is Division H starting on page 1,141 and Homeland Security is Division E from pages 634-693.

The Rules print makes two changes to the bills as reported from committee – it removes $1.6 billion from the Homeland Security bill for border wall construction (since that money passed the House already in another bill) and it removes section 746 of the Financial Services and General Government bill (an immigration-related provision).

An August 25 amendment deadline, while the House is in a month-long recess, is unusual and clearly means that the Rules Committee intends to move the omnibus appropriations bill to the floor very quickly after the House returns from recess on Tuesday, September 5.

The bill will not be considered under an open amendment process – instead, the Rules Committee will pick and choose which amendments to allow on the floor. Under the process announced by the chairman of the Rules Committee, those amendments must comply with all House rules and all budget rules (no waivers of rules will be provided), and must also meet these terms:

  • Amendments may not increase net spending (any spending increase must have an offsetting spending reduction in terms of both budget authority and outlays). Any amendment reducing spending should also deposit the net savings in the spending reduction account at the end of each division of the bill.
  • Each amendment must be confined to one division of the bill (each division is an entire appropriations bill as reported from the Appropriations Committee). Amendments cannot rob one subcommittee bill of money to enrich another.
  • Amendments must be filed electronically and with 30 hard copies with the Rules office by 10 a.m. on August 25 in order to be considered.

The House will consider the divisions of the bill in order, so Transportation-HUD will be last, and amending may take place late at night. (Under House rules, if a member is not standing on the floor and ready to offer his/her amendment when their turn comes, they are out of luck and don’t get to offer it.)

Republican leaders intend to issue a rule for consideration of the bill that will, upon House passage of the bill, add the text of the the four-bill, $788 billion security-related omnibus appropriations bill that passed the House on July 27 so that the bill received by the Senate will be a $1.2 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that funds the entire federal government.

The Senate, of course, won’t just take up the House-passed omnibus and agree to it, but by at least passing something, House leaders hope they are given an edge over Senate negotiators in the eventual negotiations over what the overall appropriations totals should be. This process will also involve changes to the Budget Control Act spending caps for 2018 and possibly for future years as well, since the House appropriations package is $72.4 billion over the defense cap for 2018. If the Senate were simply to enact the House appropriations package, it would trigger a 13 percent across-the-board sequestration of all defense accounts. (The House package is $5.9 billion below the 2018 BCA cap for non-defense appropriations.)

(August 24 update: amendments filed so far that are relevant to transportation and infrastructure programs are listed below the table at the bottom of this article. One can expect a massive surge of amendments filed at the Friday morning deadline, so check back Friday afternoon for a full list.)

The CBO scores of the eight bills that went into the new non-security omnibus (updated August 18 by CBO to reflect scoring of the border wall money in H.R. 3219 as properly belonging to the Homeland bill in H.R. 3354), and of the security omnibus as passed by the House, are below. Only the “regular” appropriations are subject to the Budget Control Act spending caps.

Source: Congressional Budget Office

Amendments to the Omnibus Non-Security Appropriations Bill for FY 2018 Relevant to Transportation and Infrastructure, Filed as of Close of Business on August 23, 2017.

Division A – Interior/Environment

Beyer (VA) #1 – strikes section 430 of the division. Section 430 would prevent prevents the federal government from requiring a permit for the discharge of dredged or fill material under the Clean Water Act for the activities identified in subparagraphs (A) and (C) of 33 U.S.C. §1344.

Beyer (VA) #2 – strikes section 431 of the division. Section 431 would authorize the Administrator of the EPA and the Secretary of the Army to withdraw the WOTUS rule without regard to any provision of statue or regulation that establishes a requirement for such withdrawal.

King (IA) #15 – prevents the enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act during FY 2018 by agencies and programs funded by the division.

Division E – Homeland Security

Murphy (FL) #7 – reduces the appropriation for the Office of the Secretary of Homeland Security (Operations and Support) by $4 million while increasing the appropriation for Transportation Security Administration – Procurement, Construction and Improvements by the same amount. The stated intent of the amendment author is to apply the $4 million increase to Checkpoint Support to enable TSA to procure and install Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) body-scanning machines at additional airports

King (IA) #8 – prevents the enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act during FY 2018 by agencies and programs funded by the division.

Division H – Transportation-HUD

Norton (DC) #2 – states that no funds provided by the division may be used in contravention of the 5th or 14th Amendments to the Constitution or of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

King (IA) #6 – prevents the enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act during FY 2018 by agencies and programs funded by the division.

Waters (CA) #7 – adds an appropriation of $7.5 billion for the TIGER grant program under the conditions set in the FY 2017 DOT appropriations act. The amendment would declare the $7.5 billion to be an off-budget emergency., so even if the amendment is enacted, if President Trump declines to sign a piece of paper designating the money as an emergency, the appropriation cannot be spent.

Waters (CA) #8 – adds an appropriation of $550 million for the TIGER grant program. The amendment does not have an offsetting reduction in spending, and the Rules Committee chairman has announced that amendments that are not budget-neutral will not be allowed to be offered on the House floor.

Lowey (NY) #9 – moves $1 million around in the Federal Railroad Administration – Railroad Research and Development account. The stated intent of the amendment sponsor is to redirect that $1 million towards implementing medical fitness standards for critical safety personnel on interstate railways.

Fortenberry (NE) #12 – prevents any funding in the division in FY 2018 from being used to prohibit an airport from using its AIP funding to store its snow removal equipment.

DeLauro (CT) #13 – adds an appropriation of $500 million for the TIGER grant program. The amendment does not have an offsetting reduction in spending, and the Rules Committee chairman has announced that amendments that are not budget-neutral will not be allowed to be offered on the House floor.

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