Tentative appropriations schedule assumes best-case scenarios
House Appropriations Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., said he expects the House to pass all 12 fiscal 2010 appropriations bills by July 30, according to a tentative schedule released Tuesday.
"This schedule would allow the House to complete action on all fiscal 2010 appropriations bills before the August recess, provided that consideration of other high priority legislation does not intervene and provided that we have reasonable procedural cooperation from all members," Obey said in a release. "It is an ambitious schedule, but it is workable if we all work together and if other crucial considerations do not intervene."
Under the schedule, the Homeland Security spending bill would be the first to see House floor action, scheduled for Friday. The Defense appropriations bill would be the last, which is slated for July 30. The Appropriations Committee Tuesday passed the Commerce-Justice-Science bill and signed off on the fiscal 2010 302b allocations.
Scott Lilly, a former Democratic clerk and staff director of the House Appropriations Committee who is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said he believes Democrats will need luck to finish all 12 bills by July 30, citing likely Republican efforts to disagree with -- and offer alternatives to -- Democratic funding priorities.
"If you were lucky on the House side, I think you could stick with that schedule," Lilly said. "I think it's going to be hard, but I think they could do it."
The House schedule comes after Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, this year set the goal of completing work on all bills by Oct. 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.
In recent years, congressional leaders have had a difficult time meeting the Oct. 1 goal, and experts contend that even under the best of circumstances it can be an arduous process.
For example, work on nine fiscal 2009 bills was wrapped up in March, months after the start of the current fiscal year, when Congress passed a $410 billion omnibus package. The fiscal 2008 appropriations process was funded through a nearly yearlong continuing resolution enacted in December 2007.
But while Lilly believes that the odds are against Congress finishing all the bills by Oct. 1, he expects that they will complete their work soon after.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., pledged to work with Obey to meet his timetable. "I hope that our Republican colleagues will work with us to complete the appropriations process in an open and timely manner," Hoyer said.