Congressional leaders are trying to finalize a FY2014 omnibus spending package and have agreement on six of the 12 appropriations measures that cover discretionary spending for federal programs. Despite the progress, lingering disagreements are making it increasingly likely that a draft of a final agreement won’t make it to House and Senate leaders until possibly over the weekend. That means Congress could miss a January 15th deadline for final passage and need a short-term stopgap spending measure to avert another government shutdown.
Lawmakers had hoped that the two-year budget deal negotiated by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and approved by Congress in December would allow appropriators to iron out their differences and move quickly on a spending bill. The omnibus bill currently being negotiated will dole out the $1.012 trillion top-line budget number from December’s deal to each of the 12 areas of federal spending.
The six parts that are reportedly completed are the Defense; Agriculture; Transportation and Housing and Urban Development; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; Legislative Branch; and Commerce, Justice and Science bills. The Energy-Water and Homeland Security portions of the package are nearing completion. However, talks on other measures – such as Labor-HHS-Education, Interior, State-Foreign Operations, and Financial Services – have been complicated by ongoing disagreements such as funding for the 2010 health care law, the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul, and abortion policy.