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 Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Senators reach .5B deal on Trump's emergency border request Senators reach .5B deal on Trump's emergency border request MORE (R-Ky.), Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), ranking member Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Democrats deal with Mueller fallout 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: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project On The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project Maxine Waters calls on Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project MORE (D-Ohio), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Poll finds most Americans misunderstand scope of 'Medicare for All' | Planned Parenthood chief readies for 2020 | Drugmakers' lawsuit ramps up fight with Trump Overnight Health Care: Poll finds most Americans misunderstand scope of 'Medicare for All' | Planned Parenthood chief readies for 2020 | Drugmakers' lawsuit ramps up fight with Trump Trump's health care focus puts GOP on edge MORE (D-Wash.), Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiLobbying World Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Md.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntDemocrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills Senate Democrats to try to force additional election security votes MORE (R-Mo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (R-Maine), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (R-Kan.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenMcConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal Senators introduce bill to prevent border agency from selling personal data 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 SchiffHouse votes against curtailing warrantless collection of Americans' data Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Cracks form in Democratic dam against impeachment 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 House advances B agriculture bill Dems advance bill defying Trump State Department cuts 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.