Action Expected on Appropriations Bills
Congress likely will focus on the fiscal year 2007 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill and other unfinished spending bills during the lame-duck session that began on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports. The federal government has operated on a continuing resolution since FY 2007 began on Oct. 1, and the House this week will vote to extend the resolution until Dec. 8 (Lueck/Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 11/13).
The Senate will begin with the unfinished appropriations bills most likely to pass, such as the Military Construction-VA appropriations bill.
According to CQ Today, lawmakers in December could seek to pass an omnibus appropriations bill that includes most of the unfinished spending bills, but the "thorniest appropriations measures, such as the Labor-HHS-Education bill, could be extended until next year" as part of a continuing resolution. "House GOP leaders had promised moderates before the election to find an additional $3 billion for the" Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill "but had not identified the source of the funding," CQ Today reports (Dennis, CQ Today, 11/10).
"There is a $5.5 billion gap between the Senate and House" on the unfinished appropriations bills, "but resolving the issue is a shared goal for the administration and Democrats," the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 11/13).
Legislation to increase Medicare physician reimbursements and to promote the use of health care information technology "might get left behind or pushed into the 110th Congress," CongressDaily reports (Vaughan, CongressDaily, 11/13).
Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution said, "Democrats won't allow anything to pass they don't like, and Republicans have little interest in starting the Democratic reign early. It could be a very short lame-duck session" (Simon/Havemann, Los Angeles Times, 11/13).
"When it reconvenes this week, the 109th Congress should concentrate on ... passing the 11 remaining spending bills for the 2007 fiscal year," a Washington Post editorial states. "The temptation for Republicans will be simply to approve a continuing resolution keeping this year's spending at 2006 levels, leaving the new majority to make the tough choices when it takes over in January," the editorial states.
However, such a move "would be an abdication of responsibility, forcing government agencies to limp along without knowing their final budgets," according to the editorial (Washington Post, 11/13).