House panel unveils spending bill despite no GOP budget

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday released an $81.6 billion veteran benefits bill, making clear that it will not wait for a GOP budget before beginning its months-long slog of spending bills.

The military construction and Veterans Affairs bill — the committee’s first spending bill this year — includes $1.2 billion less than President Obama’s budget request from earlier this spring.

{mosads}The bill comes nearly a month earlier than last year as part of GOP leaders’ aggressive push to finish the appropriations process before the August recess.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) is moving ahead with spending bills even as House GOP leaders stall the budget process because of opposition on the party’s right flank.

“Once again, the Committee is getting off to a fast and productive start,” Rogers wrote in a statement Tuesday.

The legislation will be marked up Wednesday, marking the official start of this year’s appropriations process.

Each of the spending bills will use the $1.07 trillion spending levels signed into law last year after a deal between President Obama and former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

That deal, which increased spending by about $30 billion, remains hotly contested by fiscal hawks, who say they will not support the GOP’s budget blueprint this year if it sticks by those numbers.

The appropriations committee can draft spending bills without a formal budget, but floor votes cannot happen before May 15 unless the House votes to approve one.

Facing opposition from at least 40 conservatives, GOP leaders do not have the votes within the party to pass a budget resolution.

The veterans funding bill includes $1.8 billion more than last year’s spending levels. Much of the increase would go to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which would see a 3 percent bump to “address management problems and health care shortages,” the committee said.

Tags 109th United States Congress Appropriation bill Boehner John Boehner United States federal budget

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