FY 2015 Appropriations Process: A Home Run in the Making?
The Federal appropriations process is underway, and one of the great goals is to enact all the spending bills by the beginning of the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. The last time this was done was in 1996, but there were a number of favorable conditions in place that made success more likely than today. “Looking back, the whole 1996 experience is a revelation of how a hostile Congress and a White House once actually functioned together. And what’s been lost in the years since”, writes David Rogers of Politico. In 1996, DC was not facing a potential Senate turnover; the President’s popularity rating was on the rise, making compromise with him a political asset; appropriators could use earmarks; and congressional leaders were more inclined towards deal-making. Today, DC does not benefit from such conditions, but the Appropriations Committee Chairmen are determined to put forward their best effort. Will they be able to pull it off?
Bipartisan Pediatric Cancer Research Act
Odds are against the appropriators finishing their work on time, but another bill that recently passed might give them some inspiration. The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act is a bipartisan bill to provide additional funding for pediatric cancer research by moving money from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund to the National Institutes of Health Common Fund. The bill is named after Gabriella Miller, a Virginia girl who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 9. Before she died last October, aged 10, she spent time publicly calling for more assistance for cancer patients. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia heard about Miller’s story had the bill named in her honor. Cantor also worked with Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat also of Virginia, to ensure passage in the Senate. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent and the House by a vote of 295-103. The President will sign the bill in the presence of the Miller family in their daughter’s honor. Majority Leader Cantor will also be in attendance. It is a powerful reminder that citizen advocacy and bipartisan work are still effective in Washington.
Can the GOP Hold the Senate for a While?
Not too long ago, we brought you a column by the redoubtable Charlie Cook, wherein he argued that the Senate could easily flip back and forth between the two parties over the next few years. Today, we bring you one from The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake who entertains the idea that over the next few years, it’s actually possible that the Senate could regularly favor the Republicans. The Republicans have more reliably Republican states than the Democrats have Democratic states, so the Democrats must win more of those that are up for grabs. On the other hand, Democrats have been able to hold the Senate in recent years because a number of the swing states have abiding Democratic affinities and the party has shrewdly run conservative candidates in those states.
The Republican Senate Majority Game Plan
In the event that the Republicans do take the Senate, they already have plans for what they would do with their newly acquired power. The Hill was able to interview a number who will become Chairmen to see what they would do. One priority is collaborating with their counterparts in the House to conduct investigations of the Executive Branch and produce more legislation.
And for our latest post: Cracks in the Senatorial Saucer: Filling the Tree, Cloture, and Curtailing Senate Debate