Senate Passes Two-Year Spending Plan, Adjourns for August Recess
Last week, the Senate passed the negotiated budget agreement and adjourned for August recess. The budget deal, which authorizes spending for two years, was the product of a compromise between President Trump and Congressional Democrats. While Trump urged Republicans to support the budget, many conservatives opposed it. The deal extends beyond the 2020 election – reflecting a budget agreement and a suspension of the debt ceiling – removing the possibility of default as well as the need for fresh budget negotiations during a contentious election season.
In addition to passing a budget, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee passed a first draft of a surface transportation bill, reauthorizing the FAST Act for five years and the Senate confirmed an additional 13 Trump-appointed judges to the federal bench. The EPW bill will provide a base for reauthorization negotiations, and – if properly funded – reflect a 27% increase in federal outlays over the next five years, 90% of which will flow to state Departments of Transportation for surface infrastructure projects. There is still no clarity how the bill will be funded, with a gas tax increase continuing to seem unlikely.
With the 13 judges confirmed by the Senate last week, the total number of Trump-appointed judges confirmed by the Senate since January 2017 is 144, marking a long-lasting impact on the federal judiciary. The most notable of Trump-appointed judges were Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, who are both serving as associate justices of the United States Supreme Court.
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