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.

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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 McConnellOvernight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Liberal super PAC launches browser extension replacing 'Mitch McConnell' with 'Moscow Mitch' MORE (R-Ky.), Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), ranking member Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBiden has a lot at stake in first debate The Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' MORE (R-Miss.), Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinWisconsin lawmaker gets buzz-cut after vowing not to cut hair until sign language bill passed Democratic debates kick off Iowa summer sprint Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (D-Iowa), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonTrump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul Several hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation 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 BrownBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Hillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks Senate Democrats want answers on 'dangerous' Amazon delivery system MORE (D-Ohio), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (D-Wash.), Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiLobbying World Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar MORE (D-Md.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump McConnell support for election security funds leaves Dems declaring victory Paul objection snags confirmation of former McConnell staffer MORE (R-Mo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote MORE (R-Maine), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranPompeo pressed on possible Senate run by Kansas media Jerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Olympic athletes in response to abuse scandals MORE (R-Kan.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBottom Line Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal 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 PastorNorth Carolina's special House election heads to nail-biter finish Ebola crisis anniversary sparks concerns of long-term threat Houston pastor will offer sanctuary to immigrants willing to be US citizens 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 SchiffHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Trump asked Ukraine president to investigate Biden's son eight times in one phone call: reports Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe 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 AderholtHouse advances B agriculture bill Dems advance bill defying Trump State Department cuts Maryland raises legal tobacco purchasing age to 21 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.