CONGRESS PASSES FIRST APPROPRIATIONS BILLS, MORE COULD FOLLOW
The Department of Veterans Affairs, Military Construction functions, and the Legislative Branch may all start Fiscal Year 2019 with full appropriations if President Trump signs a “mini-bus” appropriations bill passed by Congress late last week. The measure, which also includes energy and water project funding, is the first of what may be three spending bills that Congress wants to clear by September 30th. Final action on a larger bill that would fund the departments of Defense, Labor and Education could come this week. Taken together, the two bills would fund as much as 90% of federal discretionary spending. The on-time passage of the spending bills is extremely rare and is good news for both the agencies and the contractors that do business with them. The agencies get to plan and meet immediate needs. Contractors don’t have to wait till the last half of the year to see new project starts. The Department of Homeland Security would be the largest agency left without an appropriations bill. Passage of that measure is hung up over boarder wall spending. DHS will start FY’19 under a Continuing Resolution as Congress pushes boarder funding issues until after the November elections. Of course, this positive progress could all fall apart if the President decides to veto one or both of the spending bills. No one is betting on what he might do. There is some reason to be optimistic, but stay tuned for further developments.