House awaits veterans affairs, transportation spending legislation

The House could consider two fiscal 2011 spending bills this week, the first of the year to arrive on the floor. 

The $77.3 billion Military Construction and Veterans Affairs measure is scheduled Tuesday for the House Rules Committee, setting it up for a likely vote on Wednesday. 

The measure, which was approved July 20 by the full committee, has Republican support and is expected to pass. 

If the House passes the military construction bill, it could serve as a vehicle for the expected continuing resolution that would need to be passed before the start of the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. 

House Democratic leadership hasn't determined a plan for the expected CR in September. 

House Appropriations ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) has urged a quick floor vote on the military construction and veterans legislation while a war supplemental stalls in Congress. On Thursday night, the Senate passed a bill to provide funding for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House has yet to act but could follow up this week.

Democrats took more budget-focused heat on Friday when the White House's Office of Management and Budget predicted at least a $1.4 trillion deficit for 2010 and 2011, giving Republicans an arsenal of numbers to fire at the Obama administration in their bid to take over the majority in Congress. 

Opinion polls have reflected a growing recognition about growing deficits. That debate among lawmakers was pronounced during the past six weeks as the Senate Republicans waged a battle over not paying for an extension of unemployment benefits. 

The Transportation, and Housing and Urban Affairs bill also could get floor consideration although the Rules panel hasn't announced a meeting yet that would provide its road to the floor. 

The Transportation bill in the House was approved at $67.4 billion, below the $67.9 billion fiscal 2010 enacted amount.

The Senate, which also has completed its T-HUD spending bill, allocated $67.9 billion, the same as this year's figure.