By Erik Wasson
House and Senate appropriators already have spending outline
The leaders of the House and Senate spending panels already have an informal deal on a “framework” for implementing the budget that just passed Congress.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) have come to an understanding on the general outline of the omnibus, both sides confirmed Wednesday.
Appropriators are racing to complete a giant omnibus spending package distributing the $1.012 trillion authorized by the new budget agreement, which passed the Senate Wednesday on a 64 to 36 vote.
Without a spending bill, the government could shut down again after Jan. 15. The House and Senate will have just eight days to pass a bill once returning from Christmas break on Jan. 7.
That new outline divides the top-line spending level into 12 numbers, known by the jargony term 302bs.
For example, the Labor, Health and Education bill has one number and the Defense bill has another. With this level of detail set, appropriators can start to negotiate figures at the agency and program level as well as policy riders.
“We finally get a chance to be appropriators!” Mikulski said, mere minutes after getting off the phone with Rogers. “We’ve got our framework.”
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Appropriations panel, said that the quick agreement bodes well for getting a bill passed by Jan. 15.
“It’s a very good sign,” he said.
Liberal Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who oversees spending on social programs in the Labor-HHS bill, said he can live with the allocation his bill is getting under the Mikulski-Rogers framework.
“It’s a true compromise ... none of us are very happy but it’s better than sequester,” he said. “It is not as good as we marked up this year.”
— This story was corrected at 6:55 p.m. to reflect that the budget bill authorizes $1.012 trillion in spending.