was on the floor most of this week, but has been stalled by debate over military strategy in Afghanistan and weapons spending. If approved, it would provide $636.3 billion in discretionary spending, which is $3.8 billion less than the president’s request, but $4.4 billion more than the current level, which includes supplemental appropriations.
The House passed its version of the spending bill on July 30, 400-30.
Among the amendments set to be considered next week are a proposal from Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), that would increase spending on research and development for a ground-based missile defense system by between $50 million and $151 million.
The bill already would provide $7.7 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, a proposed $1.4 billion reduction in the agency’s funding from current year spending. The House approved the same amount in its version.
Other amendments due to be considered include: a proposal by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) that would deny funds for the CIA’s Center for Climate Change, and another by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would require the secretary of Defense to provide Congress with a report outlining the National Guard’s modernization priorities.
In order to draw Republican support, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) says he is open to negotiate language that would promote development of new nuclear power plants.
Kerry and Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), released details Wednesday of a broad proposal expected to be the main Senate vehicle for President Obama’s clean energy and climate agenda.
The announcement came as the EPA announced a proposal to limit greenhouse gas emission from large sources, such as power plants and refineries, under the Clean Air Act. The proposal is the most recent warning from the Obama administration that if Congress does not enact legislation to curb carbon emissions, the executive branch will impose regulations on its own.
The Senate bill is modeled on the House-passed cap-and-trade bill (HR 2454), but is full of blanks and placeholders on several key issues, with the aim of creating space to negotiate toward getting 60 Senate votes.
Overall, the bill would cap carbon emissions at 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050 and create a market for buying and selling pollution credits. The cap-and-trade approach worries several moderate Democrats and has been slammed by many leading Republicans.
While any measure curbing carbon emissions is likely to lead to increased demand for nuclear-generated electricity, industry leaders say they want to see stronger incentives in the bill, including tax incentives, loan guarantees, and increased funding for research and development into nuclear waste storage and reprocessing.
States are facing the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars they were counting on for job-producing highway projects, after the Senate failed Wednesday to repeal an $8.7 billion budget cut.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) worked out a deal with ranking Republican James M. Inhofe (R-OK) to offset the extra highway spending by tapping the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (PL 110-343).
Opposition arose when several Republicans objected to the source of money that would restore the fund, therefore defeating a deal to extend surface transportation programs for three months and repealing the rescission of previously enacted budget authority set to take effect Thursday. Instead, the highway, transit and safety programs were extended for one month in a stopgap spending measure (HR 2918) that cleared Wednesday. The extension was needed because the 2005 highway law (PL 109-59) expired with the end of the fiscal year. A condition in repealing the $8.7 billion rescission written into the 2005 law was the need to find offsets under pay-as-you-go budget rules.
Even if the Senate had passed its bill, there was virtually no way that the House (which had already finished voting for the day) could have taken it up Wednesday night. The House had already passed a three-month extension (HR 3617) but left the rescission in place. Although states will lose money they expected because the rescission was not repealed, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-MN) believes large increases in transportation funding in the six-year authorization bill he wants to pass would more than make up for the loss, his spokesman said.
Now the Senate and the House have one month to determine how long to extend surface transportation law. The House passed its three-month extension September 23, hoping it can complete a six-year authorization bill before the end of the year.
The Senate will continue working on an 18-month extension bill that would keep the programs funded at current levels until March 31, 2011. Several states already had plans to spend their share of the $8.7 billion budget rescission, anticipating that it would be repealed, and may have to cancel or delay the projects.
Spending bills and conference reports are expected to dominate Congress next week, while the Senate also focuses on the spending bill that funds the Commerce and Justice departments.
The House is not anticipated to be in session on Monday but will begin its week Tuesday with consideration of the conference report on the FY10 Agriculture spending bill (HR 2997).
Leaders have reconciled their differences on the measure, and a conference report is likely to see quick adoption in the House. The spending measure, which totals approximately $121 billion, would direct $23.3 billion in discretionary funds to the Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies.
Later in the week, the House may take up the conference report on the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010 (HR 2892), if conference negotiators can reach an agreement.
The House is also expected to make another attempt at passing the Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion Act of 2009 (HR 2442) that recently failed under suspension of the rules. The measure, which would authorize $32.2 million in federal assistance for six water recycling programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, has seen opposition from Republicans who say attention should be paid to the water needs in other areas of California.
In the Senate, consideration of the $636.3 billion Defense spending bill (HR 3326) will continue into next week. The chamber will reconvene on Monday and take up another spending measure, the fiscal 2010 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill (HR 2847) — which is predicted to headline the workweek. The first votes are expected on Tuesday, with more than a dozen amendments to the Defense spending bill still pending.
The Senate version of the Commerce-Justice-Science bill would provide $64.9 billion in discretionary spending, including $14 billion for the Commerce Department, $27.4 billion for the Justice Department, $18.7 billion for NASA and $6.9 billion for the National Science Foundation.
“We were able to write a very good bill,” said Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D‑MD), who chairs the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee. “But the stringent budget environment required the subcommittee to make difficult decisions.” The legislation would give a major boost to the Census Bureau and significantly cut funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which gives a partial subsidy to police forces for jailing illegal immigrants convicted of breaking state or local laws.
The Senate could also take up appropriations conference reports sent over from the House.
Suite 675 East
101 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20001