Congress Looks to Finalize FY17 Spending Bills

The House approved its FY17 defense spending bill by a vote of 371-48 on March 8. The House may now turn to an omnibus package that will include the remaining ten unfinished FY17 spending bills, including the Transportation-HUD (THUD) and USDA Rural Housing bills. With a tight legislative calendar before the current stopgap funding measure (continuing resolution, or CR) expires on April 28, Congress does not have the time or political will to consider each bill separately or even smaller packages of bills known as “mini-buses.”

Because of the Senate’s busy schedule confirming President Trump’s political appointments, the chamber has even less time to consider the remaining FY17 spending bills. Senators from both parties have suggested passing the House’s defense spending bill and attach to it all of the remaining spending bills and any supplemental funding requests. It remains unclear what impacts a supplemental request for increased spending on defense and homeland security will have on non-defense discretionary spending. 

If Congress again fails to pass full-year spending bills, lawmakers could default to relying on another stopgap funding bill that could run through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Enacting another CR at FY16 levels could cause HUD and USDA Rural Housing to experience a shortfall in funding, forcing cuts to critical housing programs. More than 100,000 Housing Choice Vouchers could be lost in FY17 if Congress passes FY17 spending bills at FY16 levels.