House and Senate plan conference meet for two 'minibus' spending bills

House and Senate plan conference meet for two 'minibus' spending bills
© Greg Nash

The House and Senate have scheduled conference meetings for Thursday on two spending bill packages to limit a shutdown come October 1.

The first of the so-called "minibus" packages covers defense spending as well as the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill, which combined make up a large share of Congress's annual spending.

The second package, which lawmakers hope to pass before the new fiscal year begins, includes Interior and Environment, Financial Services and General Government, Agriculture, and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations.

The meeting mark progress toward the goal of resolving the differences between the chambers' spending bills.

On Monday, the chambers submitted a completed conference report on an earlier set of spending bills, covering the legislative branch, energy and water, and military construction and veterans affairs. That bill is likely to see a vote this week.

Congress must pass funding bills to cover 12 areas of spending each year, or pass a continuing resolution (CR) for those areas to keep current levels in place when the new fiscal year begins. Failure to do so results in a government shutdown.

Congress hopes to pass the 9 bills in three minibus packages alongside a CR for the three remaining bills, which include controversial items such as President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign buys full page ads in Miami newspapers ahead of Dem debates Trump administration's 'forced diplomacy' with Iran isn't working Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama MORE's proposed border wall.

Trump has threatened to veto spending bills if they do not fund the wall to his satisfaction, but also said that he does not favor a shutdown, which would take place just a month before November's midterm elections.

Congress has not passed more than one spending bill on time since 2007.