Hoyer: Stopgap spending measure will be necessary

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Tuesday that the fiscal 2010 appropriations process will not be wrapped up by the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year, and a short-term continuing resolution will be needed to fund the government while work on the spending bills continues.

While the need for a CR seemed all but certain, Hoyer's comments represented the first official confirmation from Democratic leadership that lawmakers would not reach the goal of wrapping up all spending bills by the deadline. The House has approved versions of all 12 appropriations bills, but the Senate has only worked through a handful. Following Senate action, the House and Senate would have to resolve differences in their bills.

Hoyer said he hopes to have the appropriations process wrapped up by the end of October, but that goal might be complicated by the focus on healthcare legislation in the coming weeks.

The Senate is expected to take up three appropriations bills over the next two weeks, including the fiscal 2010 Transportation-HUD spending bill, according to Senate Democratic leadership aides. It is expected to take up the spending bills after completing a travel promotion bill and the nomination of Cass Sunstein to head the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The Senate must hold a cloture vote on Sunstein due to a series of Republican holds because of concerns about his views on animal rights.

After the Transportation-HUD bill, the Senate is likely to move to the Interior-Environment spending bill and the Commerce-Justice-Science measure, Democratic aides said.

Senate sources said Democrats are aiming for mid-September conferences for the four appropriations bills that the House and Senate have completed -- Agriculture, Homeland Security, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch.

The House is expected to take up legislation designed to protect consumers from risky mortgages and credit card abuses. Hoyer also said the House might take up student loan legislation soon.

Dan Friedman contributed to this report.

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