This Week on the Hill: Policy Riders Threaten Spending Bills in Both Chambers

June 13, 2016

Expect heated debates over policy riders for fiscal 2017 spending bills in both chambers this week, particularly ones related to LGBT rights and terrorism after this weekend’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has worked to circumnavigate the divides that often plague the appropriations process, but that strategy faces a real test this week as the House considers the $517.1 billion defense spending legislation (H.R. 5293). Republican leaders in the chamber will likely try to persuade more conservative members of their caucus to support a rule that would limit the amendments process, as Democrats have suggested they will oppose such a move.


House lawmakers will also take up a measure (H.R. 5053) this week that would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from requiring tax-exempt organizations to identify their donors. The bill comes after allegations from Republicans that the tax-collecting agency has targeted conservative groups when processing applications for tax-exempt status. Before debate on that measure, however, the House is set to consider a series of seven bills under suspension of the rules, including one (S. 337) that would expand public access to federal government records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The other six measures are:


  • H.R. 5312 – The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Modernization Act would encourage research on big data and high performance computer programs.
  • H.R. 3636 – The Oversee Visa Integrity with Stakeholder Advisories, or O-VISA, Act would give labor unions and management organizations a copy of any decision regarding the admission of certain immigrants seeking work in a motion picture or television production.
  • H.R. 4939 – The United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act would direct the State Department to create a multi-year strategy for U.S. engagement with the Caribbean region.
  • H.R. 3694 – The STOP Organ Trafficking Act would take a series of steps to prevent international and domestic trafficking of human organs.
  • H. Res. 343 – A resolution that would formally express concern regarding reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in China.
  • H.R. 5049 – The NSF Major Research Facility Reform Act would direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to maintain a Large Facilities Office to support research in the development of major multi-user research facilities.


Meanwhile, the Senate this week is poised to vote on the fiscal 2017 version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (S. 2943) tomorrow morning, before moving to the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill (H.R. 2578). The $56.3 billion C-J-S spending measure covers a number of large space projects and provides funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which may make the bill a forum for debate over gun policy in the wake of the past weekend’s attack.