The House and Senate next week will punt on a major spending deal and instead fall back on yet another temporary spending bill — the fourth so far in fiscal year 2018.
House Appropriations officials said they are preparing a short-term government funding bill for a vote next week but would not confirm how long the spending authority would be granted under the measure. The legislation could extend funding for as long as six weeks, according to some lawmakers.
Republicans and Democrats are seeking an accord on how to raise federal spending caps to fund the government until the end of fiscal 2018, but have yet to reach a deal. As a result, they're stuck living with temporary measures that each time last just a few weeks or months.
Democrats say a final 2018 bill must ensure that increases to domestic and military spending are equal, while Republicans say defense has suffered disproportionate cuts in recent years and needs an extra boost in funding.
“We think a solution is in sight,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. But so far, there hasn't been an answer.
As they reach another unsatisfying answer on spending, lawmakers will also take up other key issues, including reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program as well as a key government counterintelligence tool.
On surveillance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced the Senate will take up a House-passed bill to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows intelligence officials to spy on communications of noncitizens outside of the United States.
The bill drew significant opposition in the House and many Senate lawmakers in both parties oppose the bill and are demanding new privacy reforms.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., opposes the bill and plans to vote against advancing the measure on Monday.
“This program allows us to spy on foreigners in foreign lands with a less-than-constitutional standard, or really with no constitutional standard, and I’m OK with that,” Paul told MSNBC on Thursday. “What I'm not OK with is that millions of Americans are collected into this data system and that maybe rogue people at the FBI or our Justice Department could look at this database without a judge's warrant. So we want a judge's warrant.”
House Republicans, meanwhile, are aiming to include a five-year reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program in the temporary spending bill.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., told the Washington Examiner that he has been talking with House GOP leadership about including a five-year reauthorization that has received broad support from the House GOP.
On other issues, the House will consider a bill that would protect babies born alive during an abortion. Republicans timed consideration of the bill to coincide with the March for Life rally on Capitol Hill next week.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., plans to speak at the march.
“This bill states simply that if a baby is born after a failed abortion attempt, he or she should be given the same medical care as a baby born any other way,” said Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
And in a nod to President Trump, House lawmakers will weigh whether to return earmarks to the legislative process after a seven-year ban.
Lawmakers in both parties have complained the elimination of earmarks has made it more difficult to precisely allocate funding for much-needed projects in their districts. This week, Trump argued that letting them back in might make it easier to pass legislation.
The House Rules Committee will hold a two-day hearing on earmarks that will include testimony from lawmakers and outside experts.
“Many of us have opinions on this issue, but I want our members to have conversations,” Ryan said Tuesday. "We have members who are very frustrated with the Army Corps of Engineers and how the Army Corps of Engineers has not been up to snuff getting its job done. And that is among the concerns that the Rules Committee is going to be having conversations about."