Appropriators slim down ‘minibus’ to avoid shutdown

House and Senate appropriators are on track to release a compromise spending bill late Monday night, and they have limited the number of agencies it covers in order to smooth its passage and avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week.

Funding for the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce and Justice will be included in the first “minibus” spending package, but Homeland Security and legislative branch funding will not be added, aides said.

The bill will include a “clean” temporary spending bill funding the government past the Nov. 18 deadline, until Dec. 16, according to a committee source.

Conservative House Republicans object to extra disaster-aid funding included in the Senate Homeland Security bill and have threatened to oppose the spending package if it had the disaster funding in it.

Conservatives are angry that, under the terms of the August debt-ceiling deal, $11 billion can be spent on disasters in 2012 beyond the overall spending cap of $1.043 trillion.

Appropriators had hoped to include the Homeland Security and legislative branch bills in order to accelerate the 2012 spending process. The year began on Oct. 1, and so far Congress has yet to enact any of the 12 annual appropriations bills.

During last week’s House recess, House and Senate appropriators met behind closed doors to negotiate the first minibus. A signed conference report is expected to be introduced in the House late Monday.

Under House rules, bills must be available for three calendar days before a vote can occur, and House leaders want a Wednesday vote on the minibus. Amendments will not be permitted on the conference report, an aide said.