Thursday, December 9, 2010

HR 3082 Passes in House

As expected the House passed HR 3082 in a much closer vote (212-206) than one would have expected. Actually the close vote was pre-viewed when the House voted on H. Res. 1775, the Rule allowing for consideration of the bill. That resolution passed by one vote (207-206); with 37 Democrats joining a united Republican vote. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, this bill includes a CFATS extension until October 4, 2011 [Note Corrected Date to '2011' @ 9:42 EST. Thanks to alert reader catching my typo].

I had a chance to watch the floor debate live on CSPAN, a real treat (Sarcasm Alert). Actually, it was surprising to hear so little talk about the budget portion of the bill (certainly the largest part), a large part of the discussion centered on the discussion of the food safety portion of the bill. As I’ve said on many occasions, it is always amazing to see what unrelated stuff gets added to a spending bill.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the Rule for the consideration of this bill prevented the presentation of any amendments to the bill. So what was written was what passed; no changes yet. That is certainly expected to change next week when the Senate is expected to take up the budget.

Senate Budget Actions

Many news outlets have reported that the Senate is likely to try to amend this bill with a substitute ‘omnibus’ spending bill. Instead of basically continuing the FY 2010 spending levels (with a whole lot of minor changes) as the House continuing resolution has done, it is expected that the Senate Appropriations Committee will write a single appropriations bill setting the spending levels for the entire government (where they normally write 12 very large spending bills).

To be fair, the Senate Appropriations Committee has done most of the hard work that should be expected to go into such an omnibus bill. They have passed, in committee, the typical 12 budget bills. A single bill could be made by simply pushing those 12 budget bills together into a single MASSIVE bill.

If that is what is done, then we already know what to expect for the DHS and CFATS portion of the bill by looking at the version of S 3607 reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. For example that bill (according to the Committee Report) would provide $989,342,000 for the Infrastructure Protection and Information Security folks in DHS (vs $878,316,000in the House passed CR).

Unfortunately, there is no real indication that that is what is going to happen in the Senate. I’m sure that the committee bills will form the backbone for the omnibus bill, but there are indications that there is a lot of behind the scenes work fleshing out that bill. We will have to look closely at the product that makes it to the floor in the Senate. I expect that we will have as much advanced look at that bill as we did with HR 3082; much less than 24 hours.

It is not clear that the omnibus bill would be able to pass in the Senate. The Republicans certainly have enough votes to block brining this bill to a vote if they hold together in their opposition. This is one of the reasons that we can expect to see a great deal of back room trading to get enough votes to get this passed.

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