House conservatives rally leaders against spending minibuses

House conservatives are demanding that House leaders bring all 12 annual spending bills to the floor individually under open rules allowing unlimited amendments.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) and 43 other Republicans sent a letter Tuesday to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) outlining their demands and reminding leaders that they have pledged to the public to consider bills separately.

“We write to express our support for a fully open appropriations process in which all 12 appropriations bills are brought individually to the House floor and every member has an opportunity to offer amendments,” the letter states.

“We agree wholeheartedly with Speaker Boehner who said, ‘Let's do away with the concept of 'comprehensive' spending bills. Let's break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier,’” the letter adds. “To make this possible, House Republicans promised in the Pledge to America to ‘advance major legislation one issue at a time’ and 'let any lawmaker — Democrat or Republican — offer amendments to reduce spending.’ ”

Last summer, four of the 12 House bills were debated individually on the House floor. Once top-line spending levels were negotiated with the Senate, those bills were junked and the 12 bills were passed as a three-bill minibus and nine-bill omnibus packages. 

This week the Commerce, Justice spending bill is on the floor for consideration and is facing dozens of amendments. Passing all 12 bills by August recess could seriously tie up the House floor if each bill faces similar or greater levels of amendments.

A GOP aide said that minibuses have been talked about by leadership and the appropriations committee because of the small number of legislative days that remain before August. The aide noted June and July have only 6 full legislative days each.

In the coming weeks, the Appropriations will have prepared for the floor the Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Defense and State and Foreign Operations. One possibility under consideration is packaging all but the Energy title into a national security package.

This story was updated at 10:42 a.m.