Salazar, Murkowski head to Alaska ahead of spending bill fight

Murkowski has frequently clashed with federal regulators that she argues have placed undue roadblocks before energy production on federal lands and offshore.

House Republicans, in the fiscal year 2012 Interior-EPA spending bill before that chamber, have included provisions that would mandate faster EPA air-pollution permitting for offshore projects in Alaska, where Royal Dutch Shell has long been pressing EPA and Interior to sign off on drilling.

But Murkowski and other Republicans have far less ability in the Senate to attach policy provisions to spending bills.

The fiscal year 2012 appropriations cycle will be the first under the spending cuts mandated in the newly minted debt-ceiling deal.

It begins phasing them in by requiring $7 billion in total discretionary spending cuts, and the cuts grow substantially later into the 10-year horizon of the agreement.

Lawmakers will have little time to reach agreement on spending bills with the start of fiscal year 2012 looming Oct. 1. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he expects an omnibus package rather than passing individual spending bills through the floor.

"It probably will be difficult to have a normal appropriations process. They'll have to be clumped together," he said in the Capitol.

“It would be hard to move 12 bills across the floor in the month of September,” McConnell said.


—This post was updated at 3:17 p.m.

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