Debt Talks Impede House Spending Bills

Posted July 20, 2011 at 3:27pm

The ongoing debate on the debt limit is forcing House appropriators to scale back their goals for moving spending bills through the House.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said he hopes to get two more spending bills through the House before possibly moving to a continuing resolution to give Congress more time to finish work on the fiscal 2012 spending bills.

The Kentucky Republican, off the House floor Wednesday, said he wants to bring to the floor the legislative branch and Interior and environment spending bills before the August recess.

If those bills pass in the next two weeks, the House will have cleared seven of the 12 annual spending bills. “We had hoped to get nine through the House before the break, but that is not possible now,” Rogers said.

The delay has been caused by a dearth of floor time and a focus on raising the debt ceiling, which is expected to include a deficit reduction package that sets the top line for discretionary spending in at least fiscal 2012.

“We have a lot of things pressing the floor,” Rogers said, adding that spending bills, which have come to the floor under an open rule, have taken “a long time.”

After the August recess, Rogers said the House will likely have to pass a continuing resolution to allow Congress to keep working on spending bills beyond the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.

The Senate, which Democrats control, is waiting for the debt ceiling issue to be resolved before proceeding with too many appropriations bills. Senate appropriators disagree with the spending levels in the House bills, though they did agree on the military construction appropriations bill, which is on the Senate floor now.