Senate targets May 22 to advance spending bills

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold its first full committee votes on fiscal 2015 spending bills on May 22, Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiClinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns Gore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere MORE (D-Md.) told The Hill Wednesday.

She said the markup will feature the generally noncontroversial military construction and Veterans Affairs bill and "whatever else is ready."

The House is set to vote on its own version Wednesday night and on a bill governing legislative branch spending on Thursday. The House Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and science passed its spending bill earlier Wednesday.

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Mikulski and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) hope that this year they will be able to enact all 12 individual spending bills by the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. That hasn't happened since 1994. 

One wrinkle to getting that done will be differing spending levels for each of the 12 bills. Both the House and Senate are using a $1.014 trillion top-line level but are likely to disagree over how to distribute that among the subcommittees.

Mikulski said that she and Rogers have discussed allotments, which appropriators call "302(b) allocations," for their section in the 1974 budget act.

"I know what his are, but ours will be different," she said. 

Rogers said Wednesday that he will release the House 302b allocations next week when the full committee votes on the Commerce, Justice, Science bill.

House GOP leaders have urged rank and file members to submit their requests for legislative riders in order to get their buy-in to the spending bill process. Rogers said Wednesday that he has not seen an uptick in the member requests to the committee yet, however.

Senate ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he planned to meet with Mikulski later on Wednesday to discuss the Senate 302(b)s and what bills will move in May.

Senate Democratic leaders have promised Mikulski floor time in the summer to pass spending bills. In the event the goal of passing all cannot be met, the military-veterans bill will likely become a vehicle for a stopgap measure keeping the government open or for an omnibus package.

A Senate Democratic aide said the Appropriations Committee plans to move the Agriculture spending bill as the next bill after Military Construction, so that the bill could become the second item considered on May 22. 

— This story was updated at 4:13 p.m.