Congressional lawmakers plan to press President Donald Trump’s agency heads to use this year’s appropriations process to find new ways to upend or circumvent long-standing federal rules.
As members of Trump’s Cabinet head to Capitol Hill to sell the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget, appropriators said they have wish lists of their own that center of using the 12 annual spending bills to pursue an ambitious anti-regulatory agenda.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told Bloomberg BNA that the Congressional Review Act bills passed this winter by the Senate and signed into law by Trump will stop some rules in their tracks but represent the bare minimum that the Republican-controlled Congress can do on the regulatory front.
Moran said in an interview that appropriators now are ready to use the 2018 bills to go much further and will try to enlist Cabinet officials in their work to identify ways to target rules. He suggested departments’ own budgets may be determined by their leaders’ cooperation with Congress.
“We will have a relationship with bureau chiefs, agency heads, secretaries who know that relationships determine how successful they are in the appropriations process,” said Moran, who also serves as chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.
Moran, who previously chaired the Agriculture and Labor, Health, and Human Services subcommittees, said appropriators are getting off to a late start but are determined to avoid resorting to a continuing resolution to fund the government in 2018 as that would lock in many policies of the Obama administration. Current funding for the federal government expires Sept. 30.
“Appropriations gives us a chance to rein in things we think are onerous or lack common sense so every member of the Senate ought to care about this,” Moran said. “When we fail to do appropriations bills we fail to prioritize and if you continue to do continuing resolutions, the priorities of four years ago become your priority next year.”
Still, Moran and other Republicans are not ensured of success as many of the regulatory changes they wanted in the FY 2017 omnibus package fell away in a final round of bargaining with Democrats. Trump signed the omnibus into law shortly before a CR expired May 5.
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