By Erik Wasson - 10/12/11 06:53 PM EDT
The Senate on Thursday will begin consideration of three of the 12 annual spending bills. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that the bills funding the Commerce and Justice department, Agriculture department and Transportation department will come up for consideration as a package. Votes are expected next week.
These bill are considered less controversial than bills dealing with the Environmental Protection Agency, healthcare and the Labor department. House GOP bills for these departments are filled with riders blocking Obama administration initiatives such as the signature health reform law.
The Senate so far this year has only passed one of the annual spending bills, that dealing with Veterans Affairs. The government is currently operating on a temporary spending measure that expires Nov. 18.
The House has passed six bills and negotiations are heading either toward a catch-all omnibus bill or a series of mini-buses like that coming up in the Senate this week.
Sources have said that Reid's decision to move three bills has stalled talks between appropriators on how to divide the $1.43 trillion top line spending level set out in the August debt ceiling deal.