Appropriations Fight Drags On

Even though many key Republicans believe appropriations negotiations can be completed late today or early Saturday, the chance of adjourning before next week appears to be on the wane.

The House is likely to take up the FY97 omnibus spending bill as soon as it is ready, but Senate leaders acknowledged today that passing the legislation may take some time on their side of the Capitol. Under the "most optimistic scenario," the Senate could vote on the package sometime Monday, Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., told a news conference. Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., was more optimistic, saying he still hopes the Senate can wrap up the bill Saturday, but conceded the chance of that happening is "probably less than 50-50."

Both leaders also said they are willing to work through the weekend to finish the bill, but Lott added he does not like Sunday sessions and Daschle said he does not plan to "be here" this weekend. Lott also said he would be willing to put off a final vote until Monday if agreement can be reached earlier.

In addition, Daschle said that since some Democrats want an opportunity to try to amend the package on the floor, adjournment "could easily slip a couple of days." If it does slip past Monday, Congress would need to pass a short-term continuing resolution to prevent a shutdown of federal agencies. Both leaders said they want to avoid that and dismissed the chance it could happen. "I think there will be agreement on a short-term continuing resolution if we need one," Daschle said. But if Senate action drags into next week, the House will have to be called back.

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