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Congress May Be Able to Avoid Catchall Spending Package for FY 2012

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  • October 26, 2011
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The Senate is expected to clear a package of three fiscal 2012 spending bills after it returns to Washington next week, paving the way for the chamber to consider the remaining spending bills in small packages and increasing the likelihood that lawmakers won’t have to resort to a comprehensive omnibus measure to allocate federal spending this year.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) received bipartisan support last week in gaining Senate approval to limit debate on the three-bill package — agriculture, commerce-justice-science and transportation-housing and urban development. If that “minibus” passes, the Senate will begin work on a second package of spending bills. The chamber tentatively plans to split the 12 appropriations bill into four packages, reported CQ Today.

If the House goes along with the Senate’s “minibus” approach, it would need to take up the Senate-passed packages without the option for amendments. Leaders in both chambers are discussing how to divvy up the available FY 2012 discretionary spending among individual appropriations bills, leaving conservative lawmakers as the primary sticking point in the House. Conservatives who favor deeper spending cuts than are called for under August’s debt ceiling agreement are expected to oppose the compromise spending measures.

Following the Senate’s minibus approach, Congress probably could not finish clearing all 12 spending bills until December. As a result, a second continuing resolution could be attached to the Senate’s first spending package, extending federal funding past Nov. 18.

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