While the House is in recess this week, the Senate will continue working on FY12 appropriations measures in an effort to create a path forward on completing those bills before the continuing resolution (CR) expires on November 18th. Later today, the Senate will test the waters with a “minibus,” which would include three spending bills together in one package of piece of legislation. The other alternative is to put all 12 spending bills together in an omnibus bill, but the House leadership has indicated that this is not a viable option for their members.
The minibus (HR 2112) being considered in the Senate this week includes an amended version of their FY12 Agriculture spending bill, as well as the Transportation-Housing Development (S 1596) and Commerce-Justice-Science (S 1572) spending bills. If the Senate is successful in moving its first minibus, it seems likely that the House will also proceed in this way to avoid the larger omnibus option.
The minibus vs. omnibus option is not the only obstacle facing Congress as they struggle to complete the FY12 process. Republicans in both the House and Senate are hoping to include a variety of policy riders to the FY12 ranging from abortion to farm dust. Some conservatives have indicated that they will attempt to include many of the same policy riders that they tried to include during the FY11 battle earlier this year. An October 4th legislative bulletin from the conservative Republican Study Committee listed several riders that are priorities for the conservative right, including a ban on federal funding for abortion providers, measures aimed at halting new environmental and net neutrality regulations, and efforts to strip funding for National Public Radio, the Palestinian Authority and the Legal Services Corp.
The problem is that a rider-laden spending bill doesn’t have a chance of approval in the Senate. Republican leadership will be forced to rely on Democrats to pass the bills, which will likely result in another threat of government shutdown as we wind down to November 18th.