Much of the oxygen in the room on Capitol Hill in November and December will be taken up by tax reform. This will leave Congressional appropriators little time to make significant strides on budget negotiations ahead of the December 8 deadline for the current continuing resolution (CR). Leaders in both chambers have spent weeks haggling over how much to spend on military and domestic programs in Fiscal Year 2018. Further complicating the appropriations process are threats from Democrats to withdraw support unless a spending package includes legislation to protect “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants that came to the U.S. as young children. Support from House Democrats has been necessary to pass virtually all recent spending bills given opposition by conservative Members to recent spending measures.
This week President Donald Trump nominated Alex Azar to serve as the next Health and Human Services Secretary. Azar was previously president of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and served as a top health official in the George W. Bush administration. While much is not yet known about Azar’s global health expertise, initial statements from the nominee suggest that he wants to focus on repealing provisions of the Affordable Care Act and reducing the federal government's role in various parts of the health sector.
On November 1, USAID Administrator Mark Green appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations to discuss USAID’s reform agenda for the agency and the State Department. Administrator Green noted that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is still reviewing USAID’s plan, which was submitted on September 12; OMB has 180 days to review the redesign plan. Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey pressed Ambassador Green about the administration’s desire and current actions in delaying or cancelling USAID funding and programs.