Last week, the Senate passed the FY2012 Agriculture appropriations bill (69Y-30N), which included the Commerce/Justice/Science and Transportation/HUD bills.  Passage of this so-called “Minibus” bill marks the first step in what appropriations leaders hope will lead to completion of all FY2012 appropriations bills before the end of the year.

“It is my hope and my intention to move forward with additional appropriations bills this week, and to demonstrate to the American people that Congress is able to complete its work in a responsible manner,” Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) said in a press release.  Inouye said he hoped that this action means that Congress can avoid a year-long Continuing Resolution.

Because the House is now on recess, House and Senate conferees are not expected to complete action until next week.  But, with completion of the “minibus” bill in sight, appropriators are gaining confidence that they can finish action on all appropriations bills before the end of the year.  They have consistently said their goal is avoid the drawn-out process (seven continuing resolutions over  almost seven months) that occurred last year. 

Senate appropriators are now considering whether to package another “minibus” appropriations bill (this time including Energy, Financial Services, and perhaps Homeland Security or Military Construction/VA).  However, there is also a real possibility that they could simply to put together the remaining eight bills into a final bill. 

In any case, the main order of business next week will be to pass another FY2012 Continuing Resolution (CR) because the current CR ends on Friday, November 18.  The CR, most likely extending to mid-December, could be included in the Agriculture/Commerce/Transportation bill if  the bill is sent to the President before the end of next week, or sent to the President separately.