Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Republicans’ top appropriator sees time crunch to avoid shutdown

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Congress,Budgets and Deficits,Government Shutdown,Bloomberg News,Appropriations Committee

Congress has four weeks to write, wrangle, debate and pass legislation that sets spending levels to avoid a second U.S. government shutdown in four months, the Republicans’ top appropriator said.

“We’ve got to pass that bill through both bodies and have it signed by the president by Jan. 15,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said in an interview to air Dec. 15 on C-Span’s “Newsmakers” program.

Rogers said the bipartisan budget crafted by Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Representative Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which passed the House 332-94 yesterday, was only a first step toward avoiding a shutdown when spending authority expires Jan. 15. A fiscal impasse in September led to a 16-day government shutdown starting Oct. 1.

Even before the Senate’s budget vote sometime next week, Rogers said work has begun on a measure that sets the appropriations through Sept. 30 for each federal agency.

“What we will be doing is implementing the Ryan-Murray budget agreement that they voted for,” Rogers said. “I would hope that those who voted for the Ryan budget will now also vote for the implementation of the Ryan budget.”

The Senate will take up the $1.01 trillion budget deal on Dec. 17, Majority Leader Harry Reid said today. President Obama has said he’ll sign it.

House and Senate appropriators will write a spending bill that will fill hundreds of pages with every line item of government spending.

Rogers, Milkulski

The bill that will advance from the Republican-led House committee and the Senate panel headed by Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, could require require lawmakers to again choose whether to fund bills they don’t like in order to keep the government operating.

Among potential hurdles: Paying to introduce the health- care law along with funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to issue regulations from farms to coal-fired power plants that the House has voted to repeal. The bills died in the Senate.

“It wasn’t just a discrepancy in topline numbers that led to October’s shutdown, after all,” said Loren Duggan, Bloomberg Government’s chief legislative analyst. “Democrats and Republicans actually settled on a number for the temporary spending measures they both advanced — it was the debate over defunding, delaying and modifying the health care law that was the biggest contributor.”

Rogers and Mikulski met yesterday to discuss the outlines of the appropriation measure, he said.

Getting the budget agreement is a “huge event that breaks the logjam on getting away from these herky-jerky shutdown showdowns that we’ve been going through now for all these months and years,” Rogers said.

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