Appropriations Update: No Bill Left Behind?

Ever since the three appropriations bills and the temporary continuing resolution (CR) passed Congress last month, lawmakers have refused to consider any other possibility besides passing the remaining bills by December 16, when the CR runs out. But is that changing?

CQ is reporting (subscription required) that Congress may have to use a CR for the Labor-HHS-Education bill and possibly the Interior-Environment and Financial Services bills. The entire conflict would come from Republican policy riders that hit at key Obama policy items, like the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. In fact, some Democrats have indicated that using a CR would be preferable as a way to avoid the riders.

Still, David Rogers at Politico reports that these differences may not necessarily be wide enough to force the use of CRs. He cites Senate Appropriations chairman Daniel Inouye's (D-HI) statement that the policy riders have been narrowed and that there is confidence that the remaining differences can be resolved in the conference. The commitment is there for both parties to get all the bills finished so they don't have to continue the budget fight into next year.

For now, the House and Senate will be meeting through the end of this week to work towards an agreement, using the Military Construction-VA bill that already passed both chambers as a vehicle for the "mostlybus" legislation. For the timing to work out, Congress will need to have a package completed by the beginning of next week so there is ample time to publish it and vote on it. It will soon be clear whether we will have a budget for this year or if some bills will be left behind for a CR.