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House pushes back schedule to pass spending bills

House pushes back schedule to pass spending bills
© Greg Nash

The House is pushing back its June target date for passing 12 appropriations bills and is setting up July as a new deadline.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerAlabama Republican becomes third House member to test positive for COVID-19 this week House Democrats pick DeLauro to lead Appropriations panel Congress faces late-year logjam MORE (D-Md.) signaled the change in a Friday letter to lawmakers.

"[The House Appropriations Committee] will continue to hold necessary COVID-19 oversight hearings before beginning subcommittee and full-committee markups at the end of June and beginning of July," Hoyer wrote. 

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Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Tensions rise with Trump, Barr Maloney to lead Democrats' campaign arm Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet MORE (D-Mass.) said the bills may have to wait until August for floor passage.

"We're trying to be flexible, but it is definitely a goal to make sure that those bills are done early in the summer," she said.

The first subcommittee markup, she added, was likely to be for the the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, the largest nondefense spending bill, on June 4.

The House and Senate have until Sept. 30 to send all 12 bills for the 2021 fiscal year to President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE to have them signed into law. Without new funding by then, the government would shut down.

The House, which is led by Democrats, is expected to pass partisan bills without GOP support in the first go around. The Senate, which has a GOP majority but needs bipartisan support to pass bills, has yet to set a schedule for passing the spending bills.

A similar pattern emerged last year, with the House passing partisan bills in June, while the Senate delayed until both chambers and the White House reached agreement on overall spending levels.

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The government had to keep running on temporary extensions until December, when lawmakers finally passed the appropriations legislation.

This year, appropriators had a head start because the funding levels had already been agreed to as part of last summer's spending deal. However, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown new complications into the mix.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyPelosi bullish on COVID-19 relief: 'We cannot leave without it' House Democrats pick DeLauro to lead Appropriations panel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates MORE (R-Ala.) is looking to move some $12 billion in Veterans Affairs spending off-budget, freeing up funds to pad other priorities and smooth negotiations.

Many of the same stumbling blocks in negotiating the 2020 bills are expected to reemerge this year, though budget watchers anticipate they will end up with similar compromises this time around.

The stumbling blocks include immigration, the border wall and Trump's use of emergency funds from other departments to build the wall.

Mike Lillis contributed.