Senate, House to turn to spending bills

With Senate Democratic leaders acknowledging they will not move a healthcare bill before the August recess, the chamber is set to fill its floor schedule with fiscal 2010 appropriations bills.

The Senate is expected to pass the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill by Friday and then likely will take up one of several spending bills reported out by the Appropriations Committee, aides said. Possibilities include the Energy and Water, Military Construction-VA, Interior-Environment, Agriculture and Commerce-Justice-Science measures.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., might also return to a travel promotion bill that stalled after failing, 53-34, on a cloture vote in June. Seven Democrats missed that vote, which came on a Monday.

Reid has said he intends to try to move the bill again now that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is seated and most of the missing Democrats are likely to be on hand.

House plans remained uncertain due to continued negotiations over healthcare legislation that pushed back the House Energy and Commerce Committee's markup.

Regardless of possible floor action on healthcare legislation, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., says the House will by next week's end pass the last of the 12 annual appropriations bills "as we indicated we would" earlier this session.

If the $160.7 billion fiscal 2010 Labor-HHS Appropriations bill is taken up Friday, as scheduled, only the $636.3 billion fiscal 2010 Defense Appropriations bill will remain. Included in the defense bill is a 3.4 percent military pay increase.

Hoyer said the week will represent the culmination of seven months of the House passing "major legislation," whether it includes a healthcare bill or not.

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Thursday an omnibus appropriations bill is a possibility to finish the process.

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