Appropriations: Congress is back in session this week after last week’s Thanksgiving recess. Legislators now have less than two weeks to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government beyond December 9th. The CR that is currently being considered will likely last through March 31, 2017 and will give the Republican Majority in Congress and President-elect Donald Trump the final say in how the government is funded for the remaining six months of FY 2017. The text of the CR is unlikely to be filed until next week.
The delay in spending negotiations until next March will reawaken the battle in Congress over whether to cut discretionary spending by $30 billion, which is favored by Republicans including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI). President-Elect Trump has said he wants to raise spending caps for the Defense Department, forcing cuts to other domestic discretionary programs (including social justice and public health programs such as WIC).
Even though Congress will be under unified Republican control beginning in January, passing one or more FY 2017 spending bills will still require votes from Senate Democrats, because Senate Republicans will not have the 60 seats needed to end filibusters. A funding battle could potentially lead to a federal government shutdown in March.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization: The window for Congress to pass a Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill this year is becoming ever smaller, with only three weeks left before the December holidays. In the likelihood that no CNR bill passes in 2016, WIC and other child nutrition programs will continue to operate under the policies set by the 2010 CNR bill, known as the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act.
Congressional Leadership: House Democrats are scheduled to vote for their leader by secret ballot this Wednesday, November 30th. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is widely expected to keep her position despite being challenged by Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH).
Trump Administration Updates: Last Wednesday, Trump chose two additional appointees: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as his ambassador to the United Nations, and Republican donor and school voucher advocate Betsy DeVos as his education secretary.