Senate Expected to Approve Stopgap Spending Bill

March 19, 2013 12:23 AM

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Blunt still wants to get vote on amendment to shift USDA budget money to prevent meat inspector furloughs

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

The Senate is set today or Wednesday to send continuing resolution (CR) legislation back to the House without controversial changes that ups the odds the stopgap spending measure will be approved to avoid a government shutdown later this month.

The Senate on Monday evening voted 63-35 to limit debate on its version of the bill (HR 933), after the Senate failed to agree to whittle down a list of 99 proposed amendments. Ten Republican senators voted with Democrats for cloture.

Amendment okay request not granted. Prior to the cloture vote Senate Major Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to get a unanimous consent agreement for a bill that would have included a few amendments, including one proposed by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would have shifted $55 million in USDA's budget to avoid meat inspector furloughs. But Reid's request was shot down when senators from both parties insisted their own proposals be included. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) objected because they did not get their amendment on the list. Ayotte wanted to strike $380 million for a missile program and Moran proposed transferring money to protect the Federal Aviation Administration's contract tower program.

Some senators like Blunt still might try to offer amendments, but they would now need broad bipartisan support to be called up -- some observers say the meat inspector furlough language could be one of these. Of note, the Blunt amendment also could impact furloughs for air traffic controllers. Blunt is a ranking member of the Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee.

Timeline. Leaders in both parties want to send the CR to the House to clear before the Easter recess begins at the end of this week.

Importantly, House leaders have indicated that they are prepared to quickly put the Senate-passed bill on the floor. It’s an expanded version of a House-passed measure, but both reflect the sequester’s spending cuts, dropping regular discretionary spending to about $984 billion from $1.043 trillion. House Appropriations Committee leadership is prepared to take the modified Senate CR directly to the House floor, possibly as early as Thursday.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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