Busy, Busy, Busy: An Appropriations Update
by Gary Therkildsen*
Sep 3, 2009
An update on the appropriations process from the Hill today declares that, barring – in the words of one House Democratic aide – "a miracle," Congress will not pass all 12 spending bills before the end of the fiscal year, which is just a few short weeks away.
Though the House has passed all 12 of its spending bills, the Senate has approved just four bills, funding the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, and the legislative branch. The two biggest measures – the defense and the Education, Labor and Health and Human Services spending bills – have yet to receive a vote on the Senate floor.
With health care taking up most of the Senate's time, optimists believe that the upper house may pass another four spending measures this month before continuing on to pass the remaining spending bills in October. For any spending measures that remain to be approved at the end of the month, Congress will have to pass continuing resolutions to fund government programs covered under the bills.
Once the Senate passes the bills, though, it still has to reconcile each one in conference with the House. According to the Hill, aides in both legislative houses have been working during the summer break to schedule conferences for mid-September for those spending bills that have passed both houses.
What no one wants is an omnibus bill at the end of the year, which cobbles together any spending measures not yet passed and reconciled. Though omnibus bills speed the appropriations process along, they also deny the public proper scrutiny of the measure and, because of their hurried nature, allow legislators to insert controversial provisions at the last second.back to Blog