Spending 'minibus' heads to Senate floor

The full Senate will debate a spending “minibus” package next week funding the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, the Senate Appropriations Committee announced Wednesday. 

The $120 billion package will be the first 2015 spending legislation to appear on the Senate floor this year and it contains some of the least controversial of the 12 annual measures that need to pass by Oct. 1 to keep the government open.

 “Details on the timing of the bill next week will be determined by the majority leader in consultation with Chairwoman Mikulski,” committee spokesman Vince Morris said.

The House has already passed its versions of the Commerce and Justice, and Transportation and Housing funding bills and was on Wednesday debating its Agriculture measure. Senate action would set up a conference committee on the three measures. 

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Senate appropriators have decided to keep the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill, which was reported out of the committee last month, separate. The VA bill often becomes the vehicle for a stopgap continuing resolution is Congress fails to complete work on some of the spending bills on time. 

Appropriators will next week reveal their State Department and Energy and Water funding bills and plan to move them and the legislative branch bill through full committee.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised the spending panel at least four weeks on the floor before August to complete bills.  

 The controversial Labor, Health and Human Services bill, which funds ObamaCare and contains a $1 billion boost for dealing with illegal immigrant children, is being held back pending review, Morris said.

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