DC Digest – July 11, 2017

Duke University


In Today’s Issue:

  • Congress Overview
  • Appropriations Numbers
  • Overhaul of Higher Ed Rules


Congress returned from the July 4 recess this week with much to do before breaking again in mid-August. This week, House appropriators intend to move four of 12 spending bills, including a markup of both commerce-justice-science, and the energy and water appropriations bills. This action comes absent a FY18 budget resolution as factions within the Republican party are debating whether tax rate cuts for individuals and businesses should be offset with new revenue or spending cuts.

Lawmakers recently announced that the August recess would be delayed two weeks.



Yesterday, July 10, began the annual 10-daymark-up marathon in which the House Appropriations Committee plans to release, amend and approve its most contentious spending bills of the year. The last five appropriations measures — including the biggest domestic one, Labor-HHS — are almost always the toughest to clear because of both policy riders and disagreements over spending levels.

House Appropriations Committee members have made clear that they’re trying to engineer bills that will get enough votes to pass on the House floor. However, the House Appropriations Committee has roughly $311 billion left unspent for these five bills, which last year cost about $346 billion.

Subcommittee markups are scheduled as follows:

  •  Interior-Environment on July 12
  •  Homeland Security on July 12
  •  State-Foreign Operations on July 13
  •  Labor-HHS on July 13

In Sum

House appropriators have so far approved the Defense, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending measures for fiscal 2018, though it is unclear whether House leaders will call up those bills for floor votes amid ongoing Budget Committee negotiations.

In the Senate, spending committee leaders have only just begun considering fiscal 2018 levels, with their first subcommittee markups scheduled this week.


— MILCON-VA: $89 billion (up $6 billion from fiscal 2017)

— DEFENSE: $584 billion (up $68.1 billion)

— LEG BRANCH: $3.6 billion (up $100 million)


— FINANCIAL SERVICES: $20 billion (down $1.3 billion from fiscal 2017)

— COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE: $54 billion (down $2.6 billion)

— ENERGY WATER: $38 billion (down $209 million)

— AGRICULTURE $20 billion (down $876 million)


— HOMELAND SECURITY ($42 billion in fiscal 2017)

— INTERIOR ENVIRONMENT ($32 billion in fiscal 2017)

— LABOR-HHS ($161 billion in fiscal 2017)

— STATE AND FOREIGN OPS ($53 billion in fiscal 2017)

— TRANSPORTATION HUD ($58 billion in fiscal 2017)


The Trump administration today, July 11, will take its first steps toward rewriting two of President Barack Obama’s signature higher education directives: the “gainful employment” and “borrower defense to repayment” rules. We are paying attention closely and will keep you informed as soon as we learn more.