House to consider three spending bills individually

The House this week is on track to begin consideration of three of the 12 annual appropriations bills for 2013.

The bills will be considered individually and under an open amendment process even though some GOP members had hoped to package the bills together in order to speed passage of the entire 12-measure set.

The Homeland Security, Military Construction and Energy and Water titles will come before the House Rules Committee on Wednesday evening. The Commerce Department bill already cleared the House. The lower chamber still needs to clear eight remaining bills, a tall order if it is to be completed by the August recess.

Forty-four House conservatives, led by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), pushed GOP leaders to keep earlier pledges to consider appropriations bills individually, so that members not on the powerful Appropriations Committee will have a greater chance to influence policy.

In practice, the individual consideration of bills has a more limited effect than might otherwise be the case.

The House and Senate are crafting bills based on different top-line spending limits. The Senate is using the caps in August's Budget Control Act and the House is using those in the budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The White House has said it will sign no bills based on the House number.

Because of this, a simple continuing resolution extending current policies is expected in September before the fiscal year ends. As was the case last year, a giant omnibus bill is likely to emerge from House-Senate negotiations after the November election and appear on the House floor with just a few days' notice.