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McConnell sets 'minibus' strategy for 2019 spending

McConnell sets 'minibus' strategy for 2019 spending
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJuan Williams: Trump’s policies on race are more important than his rhetoric It’s Mitch McConnell’s Washington – and we’re just living in it Trump makes new overtures to Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that he intends to pass spending bills for fiscal 2019 in groups of “minibuses,” marking a departure from the previous year's dysfunctional appropriations process.

The Kentucky Republican also set a goal of passing the first two appropriations bills on the Senate floor in June.

“It’s our hope that we’re not just marking these up in committee, but taking them to the floor and getting as close to a process that both sides will be comfortable with in the future,” he said.

Speaking at the Senate Appropriations Committee, McConnell said the strategy had been agreed to in consultation with Minority Leader Senator Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFive takeaways from the final Tennessee Senate debate Schumer rips Trump 'Medicare for all' op-ed as 'smears and sabotage' GOP senator suspects Schumer of being behind release of Ford letter MORE (D-N.Y.) the bipartisan leaders of the committee and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight Paul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans GOP super PAC pushes back on report it skipped ad buys for California's Rohrabacher, Walters MORE (R-Wis.).

The announcement came moments before the committee voted unanimously to approve 302(b) allocations, which break down the agreed $1.244 trillion in discretionary spending for 2019 into 12 individual bills.

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Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDisasters become big chunk of U.S. deficit Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks Florida politics play into disaster relief debate MORE (R-Ala.) has laid an aggressive schedule of marking up the bills in committee before the July 4th recess.

Senators failed to pass any fiscal 2018 appropriations on the floor until nearly six months after the new year began, when they were included an omnibus bill that combined all the bills.

Shelby on Thursday spoke out against an omnibus approach, in which many of the decisions are often made at the last minute by leadership and the White House.

“I think we all agree that’s no way to fund the government. I think it’s bad for the agencies, it’s bad for our constituents, it’s bad for the country,” he said.

The Senate bills, which will require bipartisan support to pass on the floor, are likely a closer indication of what the final spending package will look like than those passing in the House, where only a simple majority is required.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators trigger law forcing Trump to probe Saudi journalist's disappearance Justice Kavanaugh will be impartial, not political like his opponents MORE (D-Vt.), the panel's ranking member, praised Shelby for working cooperatively with Democrats on compromise bills, and jabbed the House for its more partisan approach.

“It’s in sharp contrast to [the] other body. They’ve taken a different path,” he said.