House Passes FY20 State-Foreign Operations Bill; Bipartisan Majority Defeats Cutting Amendments

This week, the House completed work on its first four FY20 appropriations bills with the passage of a four-bill “minibus” that included the State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) bill, which funds the vast majority of the International Affairs Budget. Approved on a party-line vote of 226-203, the minibus provides $56.4 billion for SFOPS – a 4% ($2.2 billion) increase compared to the FY19 enacted level.

A number of amendments to the SFOPS portion of the bill were debated and voted on during floor consideration of the minibus, including four that would have cut the topline funding level. Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Ranking Member Hal Rogers (R-KY) led strong, bipartisan opposition to all four amendments, which were defeated by wide margins.

  • An amendment by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) eliminating $19.1 billion for bilateral economic assistance and independent agency programs – including Global Health Programs, Development Assistance, the Peace Corps, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Failed, 110-315.
  • An amendment by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) reducing funding by 14% across-the-board. Failed, 123-303.
  • An amendment by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) reducing funding by 2.1% across-the-board. Failed, 131-292.
  • An amendment by Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) reducing funding by 1% across-the-board. Failed, 134-293.

Next Steps

With the passage of the four-bill minibus this week, House Democrats are on track to meet their stated goal of passing all twelve FY20 appropriations bills by the end of June. A second five-bill minibus that includes the Agriculture and Commerce-Justice-Science bills – the two remaining bills that fund the International Affairs Budget – is expected to pass the House next week.

On the Senate side, Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said this week that he expects the Senate to begin work on its FY20 spending bills next month by “deeming” the topline discretionary spending levels if Congress and the Administration are unable to reach a bipartisan budget deal in the coming days.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle acknowledge that a budget deal must be reached in order to fund the government in FY20, but negotiations between Congress and the Administration have made little progress to date. To prevent a government shutdown, Congress will need to pass a new budget deal or a shorter-term Continuing Resolution (CR) before the current fiscal year ends on September 30. However, time is running short given that both chambers are only scheduled to be in session for seven more weeks before the September 30 deadline.