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House appropriators may unveil as early as the coming week their proposal for funding the federal government in the second half of fiscal 2013, but there’s no decision yet on whether the Republican leadership may bring the bill to the floor.
House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., is putting together a package that will combine new Defense and Military Construction-VA bills with a continuing resolution covering much of the rest of the government. House leadership has not yet decided whether to take up this package and when it would bring up the bill if it does proceed with it, an aide said.
But Rogers’ measure is considered likely to become a vehicle for moving any agreement, if Democrats and Republicans can reach one, to alter the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts scheduled to begin Friday under the sequester. The House could pass Rogers’ version of the CR, and then the Senate could take it up and use it to pass both overdue fiscal 2013 appropriations and any potential deal on the sequester.
The March 27 expiration of the current CR (PL 112-175) presents Congress with something of a hard deadline in its current budget battles. Although the sequester takes effect Friday, it may take some time for the impact to become evident since it may be 30 days before furloughs of federal workers begin. But much of the federal government will be temporarily shut down if Congress doesn’t clear new appropriations laws when the current continuing resolution expires.
With both chambers slated to be in recess for two weeks starting March 25, Congress likely will have to clear another fiscal 2013 appropriations measure the week before.
Rogers and his Senate counterpart, Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, have said they would like to package up agreements their committees reached on spending bills that were completed and nearly completed last year into an omnibus measure. They argue that would better address the current needs of federal agencies and programs than another simple continuation of spending laws.
“I am hoping that Congressman Rogers can pass this and the Senate can get to work on it,” Mikulski said at a press conference last week at the National Institutes of Health.
But leaders in both chambers may find it easier to opt for another six-month CR covering many federal agencies. The White House already has sent the House Appropriations Committee its list of special exceptions, known as anomalies, that it wants in the CR.