November 2, 2011
By a vote of 69 to 30, the Senate yesterday approved an FY12 appropriations “minibus,” which includes three of the twelve FY12 appropriations bills: Agriculture, Transportation-Housing, and Commerce-Justice-Science.
It appears that in the process of approving several amendments to the first FY12 appropriations minibus, the Senate did not make any changes to funding levels approved by the Appropriations Committee for the National Science Foundation (NSF) or NASA. The Commerce-Justice-Science bill (S. 1572), approved by the Committee on September 15th, would cut the NSF budget by $162 million, or 2.4 percent, and the NASA budget by $509 million, or 2.8 percent.
Conference committee work on the package could begin as early as tomorrow. This is where a few members of the House and Senate work to negotiate a final bill – based on the minibus approved by the Senate and the individual bills approved by the House. House Appropriations Committee Chair Harold Rogers (R-KY) hopes to have a completed conference report by the week of November 14th so that both chambers can take action on that package before the continuing resolution (CR) expires on November 18th. Conferees on the minibus will likely add a new CR to the package to keep the government funded through mid-December.
The Senate is now working on a second minibus, which could move to the Senate floor as early as tomorrow. The package is expected to combine Energy-Water, Financial Services, and may include either State-Foreign Operations or Homeland Security.