Senators Try to Achieve ‘Regular Order’ in 2016

Both sides of the Senate aisle have been meeting to consider different operating procedures that could result in a smoother appropriations process and diminish the reliance on continuing resolutions or omnibus legislation to fund the government.  At issue is the use of filibusters to prevent funding bills from coming to the Floor for consideration.  Disallowing filibusters at this stage for appropriations bills — but retaining their use for non-appropriations measures — is being discussed in the Senate.  Such rule changes and a return to “regular order” are being called a “top priority” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also seems to be onboard, but with a series of caveats.  And, although not directly engaged in Senate procedural policy, even House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) agrees that moving appropriations bills in a timely fashion is essential to good government.

Leaders for both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are eager to begin working on FY 17 funding measures; especially, since this year’s budget deal outlined allocation levels for both FYs 16 and 17.  The hope is that working through already agreed to funding levels will forestall any need for filibusters to prevent measures from coming to the Floor.  And, making the change to Senate rules would go a long way toward achieving that goal.  Both sides agree that any change would have to be consensus-based and the issue of how to manage riders could complicate the process.