Next week, the 116th Congress will return from August recess to tackle the legislative agenda.  The Senate is set to tackle the federal appropriations for Fiscal 2020 their first week back in session.  On September 12th, the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up the Defense, Labor-HHS-Education, Energy-Water and State-Foreign Operations bill that represents over half of the annual discretionary budget for the federal government.  The Congress must pass 12 appropriations bills before the new fiscal year begins on October 1st to avoid a government shutdown.  

The House approved 10 of 12 before the August break, but the Senate Appropriations Committee has not marked up any of the required appropriations measures.  Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) is expected to mark up four bills each week through the end of the month to meet the October 1st deadline.  If Chairman Shelby is unable to pass all 12 appropriations measures before the new fiscal year begins, Congress will have to enact a stopgap spending measure that would effectively extend the appropriations deadline.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) sent a letter to House members on September 5th saying the House would consider a stopgap spending bill the week of September 16th that would run until late November.

Beyond appropriations, both chambers of Congress will return to work on important issues for rural California.  On September 10th, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to consider the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s plan to relocate the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado, and on Wednesday, September 11th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the nationwide broadband maps.  Legislative activity is expected to pick up through the end of 2019 and many important issues for rural America will be on the agenda.