House appropriators intend to begin work on a combined $4.1 billion defense-disaster relief supplemental appropriations measure immediately after the Easter recess, House Appropriations Chairman Robert Livingston, R-La., said Friday.
"We expect to move right away when we get back," Livingston said before the House broke for the recess. He said the supplemental spending will be offset by cuts, even though he said the administration has not provided an adequate list of offsets.
A House Appropriations Committee aide said if the panel begins work on the supplemental spending measure in mid-April, it is likely to reach the House floor by late April or early May.
Combining the $2.1 billion defense supplemental for Bosnia with the $2 billion disaster relief spending makes both proposals easier to pass, the aide said. Some House members have raised concerns about the Bosnia mission, but the aide said the supplemental spending would pay for expenses already incurred.
The Pentagon has been using troop readiness funds to help pay for the Bosnia mission and the supplemental spending would help replenish that account. The aide said Livingston has mentioned some possible offsets to House GOP leaders, but said finding more than $4 billion in offsets from FY97 spending is a "tough job."
The aide emphasized, however, that Livingston is "doing everything he can to find ways to pay for all of the spending."
Meanwhile, Livingston said appropriators would like to get some idea of discretionary spending caps by May 15 to begin work on FY98 spending measures. However, he said if those caps are not available, "it won't be a major problem," adding that appropriators could mark up their bills based on the FY97 spending level or some other arbitrary level. The House and Senate Budget committees have not yet marked up their FY98 budget resolutions.