The Senate on Wednesday put a bill to the floor that includes several fiscal year 2019 budgets, including defense, as the committee hopes to bring the legislation up for a vote as early as next week.
The so-called “minibus” H.R. 6157 includes two FY‘19 appropriations measures, the Department of Defense bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill. They are the eighth and ninth funding bills to be processed by the full Senate this year.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee as well as the defense subcommittee, told reporters he hopes to have the bill approved by the Senate and moved into conference by next week.
“My goal today – and tomorrow and next week – is to get those bills to a conference,” he said.
Less than seven weeks are left before Oct. 1, which marks the start of the federal government's fiscal year 2019, and the hope is to have the bill signed into law before the end of fiscal year 2018, he noted. “That’s our goal now. Whether we achieve it, we don’t know. But we’ve made more progress than we have in a long time.”
Presenting the bill on the Senate floor, Shelby lauded the bipartisan effort to bring the defense appropriations bill to the floor, singling out Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“At the outset of the appropriations cycle here, the four of us met and agreed to work together in an effort to return the Senate to regular order,” he said. As a result, all 12 appropriations bills were passed before the chamber left for its July recess, he noted.
Now as the legislation is opened up for debate, “we have a great opportunity to extend the success that we have generated thus far,” he said. It has been a dozen years since the president signed a defense appropriations bill into law before Oct. 1, he noted.
“There’s no time to waste when it comes to our national security,” he said.
The Senate will convene next Monday to resume consideration of the minibus package.