House Republican appropriators expect to work through fiscal 2012 spending legislation in small batches of bills in an attempt to avoid one catchall measure for the budget year. Moving forward with "minibuses" would follow suit with the Senate where lawmakers from both parties have said they prefer smaller packages of bills to an omnibus bill.
Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (Ohio) said that House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that there will not be an omnibus measure to cover all fiscal 2012 spending. Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.), chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, also said he was optimistic that the House would be able to consider minibus packages.
However, moving several smaller spending packages could spark more objections from House Republicans than an omnibus. Several votes on major spending packages, as opposed to one on an omnibus, would offer multiple opportunities for conservatives to protest the $1.043 trillion fiscal 2012 spending cap. Many House republicans would prefer an earlier target of $1.019 trillion, which was included in the House-passed budget resolution and others wanted even deeper cuts.
Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho), chairman of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, said leadership has not given him a final word on how the process will play out.
"I'd just as soon do it once rather than five times, but it is what it is, and however leadership decides to do it, I am with them," he said.
While Boehner has not committed to a final spending strategy, he said that he has been reluctant to even consider the idea of an omnibus. Leaders in both chambers have been negotiating final bill-by-bill spending totals, known as the 302(b) allocations, that would divide the total $1.043 trillion in fiscal 2012 discretionary money.
"I would hope that we could reach an agreement on those spending levels for each of those subcommittees soon so that those appropriate chairmen and ranking members can sit down and begin to work through some of those bills," Boehner said. "But no decision's been made in terms exactly how we're going to proceed."
Reprinted in part from Congressional Quarterly