Congressional conferees completed action on the FY2012 “minibus” appropriations bill Monday night and forwarded it to the House and Senate floors for final approval. The bill includes about $182 billion for the Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science, and Transportation/HUD appropriations bills and provides $2.3 billion in disaster assistance funding for these agencies. The House and Senate are expected to pass the bill tomorrow.
The “minibus” bill also extends the FY2012 Continuing Resolution (CR) until December 16. Appropriations leaders added the CR extension to remove the prospect of a government shutdown when the current CR runs out on Friday, November 18. In announcing the conference agreement on the bill, House Appropriations Chair Harold Rogers (R-KY) said “the legislation represents a bipartisan compromise that will prevent a government shutdown.”
Conferees emphasized that the “minibus” bill supports the total FY2012 discretionary funding level of $1.043 trillion agreed to in the Budget Control Act of FY2011. Three weeks ago, OMB Director Jacob Lew sent a letter urging Congress to stick to that agreement. Some Republican House members argue that this level is too high and have pressed for additional reductions. This stated commitment to the agreement by House and Senate leaders is evidence that Congress intends to rebuff any such effort.
The Minibus bill is the first FY2012 appropriations bill to move to final congressional passage. If the CR extension is adopted as expected, appropriations leaders will have four weeks to complete action on the remaining nine appropriations bills. The Senate is reported working to put together another “minibus” bill that combines the State/Foreign Operations, Energy, and Financial Services appropriations. However, it is still unclear whether the strategy is to construct and pass one or more minibus bills, or include all remaining appropriations in one bill.