This Week on the Hill: Senate to Consider FY18 Budget, Disaster Relief Bill

October 16, 2017

The Senate returns to Washington today while the House is out for an in-district work period until Oct. 23. The primary agenda item for Senate lawmakers will be mirroring their House counterparts in advancing a FY2018 budget resolution that includes reconciliation instructions to be used for a Republican-backed tax reform package. Given the partisan nature of the resolution, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will again be relying on the strength of the narrow Republican majority in order to secure the necessary votes for passage of the resolution, although one Republican — libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — is seen as a likely “no” vote. The resolution does not appear to be in any danger of failing, however, particularly after moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said over the weekend that she is “likely a yes.” Republicans are seeking to complete the budget process in a timely fashion in order to facilitate their ambitious goal of sending tax reform legislation to the president’s desk before the end of the calendar year.

Also in the Senate’s plans for the week is approval of a $36.5 billion disaster relief package that passed through the House last week. The aid bill is the second installment of federal funds to help southeast Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and western states recover from recent storms and wildfires. While 69 Republicans voted against the bill in the House, little opposition is expected in the upper chamber.

Official floor work for the upper chamber starts today as senators are due to confirm Callista Gingrich to be Ambassador to the Holy See. Another nomination in the Senate’s confirmation queue — David Joel Trachtenberg to be Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense — is scheduled to be voted on tomorrow.