CHN: Work Proceeds on Appropriations – Will it Continue?

Both House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved some of the dozen FY 2015 appropriations bills prepared by their subcommittees, and are moving forward on additional spending bills.  Chairs Mikulski (D-MD) and Rogers (R-KY) of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees respectively had made earnest commitments to get each bill out separately, following “regular order,” instead of having to lump all spending together, perhaps only in stop-gap temporary measures aimed at preventing a government shutdown.  Now, various political pressures are making themselves felt, slowing down decision-making.  Within days or even hours, it will be known whether there will be bipartisan willingness in the Senate to move a package of three appropriations bills:  Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD.  On the House side, floor action on its Agriculture appropriations bill was stalled, probably until July (see article on Agriculture appropriations elsewhere in this Human Needs Report.)
So far, the full House Appropriations Committee has reported out bills for Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce-Justice-Science, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD.  The last four were also passed on the House floor.  On the Senate side, the full Committee has approved bills for Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD.  None of the Senate bills have been acted upon by the full Senate yet.

On Tuesday, June 17, the full Senate will begin to take up its “mini-bus” package of three appropriations bills.  Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) has moved to limit debate, and it will soon be known whether enough Republicans join Senate Democrats to form at least a 60-vote majority to move the package bill forward.  Senate Republicans have insisted upon getting the opportunity to offer amendments.  They will get the chance to offer germane amendments.  As of now, the Senate has committed two weeks of floor time to get through debate and amendments, but that could change if it appears that Republicans will be forcing tough votes as electoral campaigns heat up.

Budget and Appropriations
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