Omnibus Budget Bill Looking More LikelyNovember 18, 2009 - by Avelino Maestas
Donny is working on a post about the soon-to-be-released CBO score of the Senate health care reform bill, but I thought I would just write a quick hit on the budget. If you recall from my last post, most of the government was operating on a continuing resolution: federal agencies are using last year’s budget formula to conduct business. Fiscal year 2009 ended on September 30, and while five appropriations bills have been signed into law, seven have not (you can see which ones on this chart). For those agencies that have had appropriations finalized, employees and programs are operating at their FY 2010 levels, as directed by the legislation signed this year. Everybody else is now working from a second continuing resolution, which will function through December 18, 2009 (the date Congress expects to recess for the year).
The House has pretty much finished its work on the remaining appropriations bills (Commerce, Defense, Financial Services, Labor/HHS/Education, Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, State/Foreign Operations, Transportation/HUD), and is awaiting Senate approval and then the final conference reports. However, as we’ve seen time and again this year, very little moves quickly through the Senate. Therefore, there’s increasing speculation about an omnibus budget bill. In that case, the House and Senate would throw together any remaining appropriations bills into one big package, which is then pushed through as a must-pass piece of legislation.
On paper, it’s not a terribly bad way of getting the budget bills approved and signed into law. In practice, omnibus bills have been used as vehicles for a number of non-budgetary pieces of legislation.