Mikulski has several options for trying to move appropriations bills in the absence of a broader budget accord.
“We’re hoping that we can do that,” Shelby said. “It’s early, but we are determined, if we can, to make the process regular.”
If Mikulski follows Inouye’s lead, it might be late summer or fall before appropriations bills move through committee.
In 2011, Inouye waited until leaders in both parties and chambers agreed on how much to spend for fiscal 2012 in the August 2011 debt limit law (PL 112-25).
Then, by the end of the September, Inouye moved 11 of the dozen fiscal 2012 bills through his committee, attracting strong bipartisan support. Fiscal 2012 appropriations were then wrapped up in two broader omnibus packages — one cleared in November and the other in December.
It’s possible fiscal 2014 spending might eventually be wrapped up much as fiscal 2012 was if Mikulski and Shelby wait for leaders in both parties and Obama to make a final decision on spending.
Meanwhile, bills in the House are far easier to move, as the majority party has the procedural tools to pass them without any minority support. As a result, Republicans likely will move many of the bills this summer at the lower spending level.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.