McConnell says Senate moving to consider spending bills

McConnell says Senate moving to consider spending bills
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Partisan squabbles endanger congressional response to Trump's course on Syria MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that the upper chamber will start considering spending bills next week with a 2017 budget unlikely to materialize in the House. 

McConnell said that he is still waiting to see if the House will produce a budget resolution by Friday's deadline but the chances of that happening have quickly faded amid a GOP battle over spending levels. 

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"In the meantime, I've already announced, and I'll announce again today, we're going to move to appropriations next week, probably starting with energy and water," McConnell told reporters.

"And we'll mark these bills to the top line that we agreed to in the agreement last year."

The House Budget Committee approved a measure on March 16 but the blueprint seemed doomed from the start with fiscal hawks in the House Freedom Caucus unwilling to budge on increased spending levels.

A two-year fiscal agreement crafted last year by President Obama and former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFrom learning on his feet to policy director Is Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush MORE (R-Ohio) provides for $1.07 trillion in discretionary spending, which is $30 billion higher than last year.  

Republicans in both chambers had vowed to complete a blueprint even though the spending levels had been set in the deal. 

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee is moving ahead by releasing two more bills on Tuesday — for energy and for water and agriculture. Both measures are slated for subcommittee markups on Wednesday.

The House's energy and water bill totals $37.4 billion — $259 million above the fiscal 2016 level and $168 million above the president’s budget request with funding aimed at national security efforts and infrastructure investments.

“With ever-changing global threats, it is vital we keep the country at the very pinnacle of nuclear security preparedness," said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the panel.

"This bill prioritizes funding to ensure that our stockpile is modern, secure and ready,” Rogers said.

“Also critically important is the growth of our economy — which simply cannot occur without functioning and safe water resources and continued strides toward energy independence."

The agriculture measure would provide $21.3 billion in funding, which is $451 million lower than 2016's enacted level and $281 million below the president’s budget request.

Rogers said that the measure reins in "unnecessary regulations that slow economic growth, hold back production and dampen innovation."