Appropriators set to expand ‘minibus’

Congressional appropriators are moving aggressively to wrap up the 2012 spending bills and will add two new elements to a package of bills under negotiation this week.

Spending bills for Homeland Security and the legislative branch will be added to a spending "minibus," which heads to a House-Senate conference committee Thursday evening, House Appropriations Committee ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said.

The minibus containing funding for Agriculture, Transportation, Housing, Commerce and Justice passed the Senate on Tuesday. The Thursday conference committee meeting is the first time Congress has followed regular negotiation procedures on a spending bill since 2009.


The bill will also become the vehicle for a temporary spending bill to keep the government open past Nov. 18. That continuing resolution should last until Christmas recess, committee sources said.

The conference committee negotiations are set to continue over next week’s House recess with the goal of having a conference report ready for introduction Nov. 14.

Congress so far has not passed any of the 12 annual appropriations bills, a month after fiscal 2012 started.

The top-line spending level of $1.043 trillion was set in the August debt-ceiling deal so negotiations are about how to shift funding around within that target, rather than a bruising ideological battle over large-scale deficit reduction.

The five bills being combined into this first minibus are much less controversial than the Labor, Health, Financial Services, and environment bills left outstanding. Those bills contain dozens of controversial policy riders including those defunding President Obama’s healthcare reform and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

The Homeland Security bill has the potential to resurrect a fight over disaster funding that almost shut down the government. The dispute appears to be resolved however with the GOP agreeing that the $1.43 trillion cap can be lifted, under the terms of the debt-ceiling deal, for true emergency spending. 

Reflecting the nature of the negotiation, neither side has appointed ideological bomb-throwers to the committee.

The Senate conferees are Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection agency limps into 2020 cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration MORE (R-Ky.), Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), ranking member Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy MORE (R-Miss.), Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinStop asking parents to sacrifice Social Security benefits for paid family leave The FDA crackdown on dietary supplements is inadequate Wisconsin lawmaker refuses to cut hair until sign-language bill passes MORE (D-Iowa), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonSeveral hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Court ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada MORE (R-S.D.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery Sherrod Brown asks Trump Fed pick why he referred to Cleveland, Cincinnati as 'armpits of America' Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Ohio), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Dem chairs to meet with progressives on drug pricing | Oregon judge says he will block Trump abortion rule | Trump vows to 'smash the grip' of drug addiction | US measles cases hit post-2000 record Hillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Dems introduce bill to tackle 'digital divide' MORE (D-Wash.), Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar Bottom Line MORE (D-Md.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senator: 'No problem' with Mueller testifying The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Graham says he's 'not interested' in Mueller testifying MORE (R-Mo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump MORE (R-Maine), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranLive coverage: Barr faces Senate panel as he prepares release of Mueller report Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — House panel approves bill restoring net neutrality | FTC asks for more help to police tech | Senate panel advances bill targeting illegal robocalls Senate panel advances bill penalizing illegal robocalls MORE (R-Kan.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOvernight Energy: Bipartisan Senate group seeks more funding for carbon capture technology | Dems want documents on Interior pick's lobbying work | Officials push to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US Officials, automakers aim to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US: report FCC claims on broadband access under scrutiny MORE (R-N.D.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

The Democratic House conferees are Dicks, Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), John Olver (Mass.), Ed PastorEdward (Ed) Lopez PastorWhich phone do lawmakers like the most? CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: Political tomfoolery Pastor endorses in race to replace him MORE (Ariz.), David Price (N.C.), Sam FarrSamuel (Sam) Sharon FarrMedical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill Marijuana advocates to give away free joints on Capitol Hill DEA decision against reclassifying marijuana ignores public opinion MORE (Calif.), Chaka Fattah (Penn.) and Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOn The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery On The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report MORE (Calif.).

The Republican House conferees are Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky.), Reps. Bill Young (Fla.), Jerry Lewis (Calif.), Frank R. Wolf (Va.), Jack Kingston (Georgia), Tom Latham (Iowa), Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtAnti-smoking advocates question industry motives for backing higher purchasing age Barr forms team to probe FBI actions in Russia investigation: report The single-sentence Russia bombshell that Attorney General Barr delivered to Congress MORE (Ala.), Jo Ann Emerson (Mo.), John Culberson (Texas),
John Carter (Texas), Jo Bonner (Ala.) and Steven LaTourette (Ohio).

A second minibus based on the Energy and Water bill is slated to come to the Senate floor soon.