The lights are on, but . . .
Lawmakers who will craft fiscal year 2018 spending plans for enviro and energy agencies will probably be stuck in low gear until the Trump administration fills out. Rep. Mike Simpson, who heads a subcommittee that writes DOE's spending plan, said it's been a "challenge" getting undersecretaries and staff in place.
Why it matters: The White House has floated aggressive budget cuts for message purposes, but the absence of a detailed plan and the lack of agency staff could keep the spending process from really getting down to specifics for a while. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Appropriations Committee member who oversees Interior and EPA, said new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who she has met with in recent days, is also dealing with the lean times:
- "He's told me that he has got the same problems. … It's getting these departments staffed up and getting the folks on the ground confirmed and up to speed."
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney sent agency heads a March 17 memo warning that for now any testimony before Congress should be limited to what's in last week's "skinny" proposal. A more detailed plan is expected in May.