As we leave July behind and move forward into August, we approach the end of Congress’ session for the year. This means that members of Congress are more focused on preparing re-election campaigns than voting on bills, but with legislative backlog mounting in the hundreds, there may be more incentive than usual to get bills passed before election season.

You may remember the “Farm Bill” from last month’s Policy Watch. The bill has since passed in the Senate, and is currently resolving differences in committee.

 

John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019

Introduced in April by Representative Mac Thornberry, this defense bill authorizes over $700 billion in spending for the Department of Defense’s military activities.

While military spending may always be necessary, it seems like every year defense budgets continue to balloon unquestioned. President Trump’s promises of a new military branch, the “Space Force,” has exemplified this in the public’s eye. The spending bill however does have some improvements, with more resources allocated to combating domestic abuse within the military.

The bill is currently in committee, resolving differences after passing in both the House and Senate.

 

Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019

Known colloquially as the “minibus bill,” this appropriations bill allocates $154 billion in spending for federal agencies for fiscal year 2019. The bill recently passed in the Senate August 1, after passing the House earlier in July.

Although it has already passed both chambers, there is still an air of uncertainty surrounding the bill. The Senate version of the bill approves a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees, while the House version does not. The White House also issued a statement opposing the pay raise, and President Trump has threatened to veto any spending bill that doesn’t include border wall funding. That action would trigger a government shutdown, a grave threat during what’s expected to be a heated midterm election.

While the pay raise might likely disappear while resolving differences, expect yet another game of chicken between Congressional republicans and Trump over the wall soon.

 

Highlighting some of the critical priorities of the US Senate, September 25 has now been officially designated as “National Lobster Day.”

“Lobster likely joined turkey on the table at the very first Thanksgiving feast in 1621, and it continues to be a mainstay during many other holiday traditions.” The resolution reads, “…the number of recipes incorporating lobster is growing with chefs across the United States incorporating the protein in new and creative ways from lobster dumplings to lobster grilled cheese.”

The Senate thus encourages Americans to “observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

 

What legislation and issues would you like to see? Let us know in the comments below!