Appropriations Crunch

September 9, 1996

Appropriations Crunch

With the start of FY97 on Oct. 1 drawing nearer, the primary focus again this week on Capitol Hill not surprisingly will be completing as many of the 13 FY97 appropriations measures as possible before a continuing resolution is needed to avert any sort of government shutdown.

Appropriators will be working full weeks in their drive to finish the spending bills so the 104th Congress can adjourn and members can go home and campaign. But the House and Senate rank-and-file may not be in session with floor votes for all that time. So far, the FY97 Agriculture appropriations bill is the only of the 13 measures to be signed by President Clinton. In addition, Congress has completed work on three others, the FY97 District of Columbia, Military Construction and Legislative Branch appropriations bills, and Hill leaders may send them to the president this week.

House-Senate conference committees on the FY97 Energy and Water, Transportation, Defense and VA-HUD appropriations bills are likely to meet this week, according to a House Appropriations Committee aide. Progress on those bills depends on resolving a few sticky issues, such as funding for the Clinton administration's national service program, which was abolished by the House but was not eliminated by the Senate.

A key issue in the Energy and Water conference, meanwhile, is Senate-passed language added by Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., to give states limited authority to restrict the import of solid waste. House Commerce Chairman Bliley has objected to House adoption of the amendment. But a coalition of legislators, led by House Commerce Trade and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, and Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., is working on a revised version of Coats' amendment and expects to have it ready early this week, according to a Buyer spokesman.

The House tentatively is slated later this week to take up three of the conference reports, Energy and Water, Transportation and Defense, if they are ready.

The Senate is scheduled late Tuesday to begin considering its version of the FY97 Treasury-Postal appropriations bill, and also may consider its FY97 Interior and Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bills this week.

During the Interior bill debate, an amendment may be offered to restrict implementation of Agriculture Secretary Glickman's salvage timber directive, sources said. Another amendment may be offered to go forward with plans to build a low-level nuclear waste repository in Ward Valley, Calif. Meawhile, Senate committee action is scheduled to finally begin on the FY97 Labor- HHS appropriations measure, the only bill that has not been marked up in subcommittee yet.

The Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee is slated to mark up the measure Tuesday, with the full Appropriations Committee scheduled to consider it Thursday.

Action had been delayed as Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Senate Appropriations Chairman Hatfield searched for additional money for the bill.

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