Lame-duck Congress to face legislative quandary

Lawmakers will have to figure out how to handle the spate of appropriations bills that have yet to pass the legislative branch when Congress returns next week after its election recess.

Before adjourning for the election in early October, Congress had only passed two appropriations bills for fiscal 2007 ? bills funding the Defense and Homeland Security departments.

Lawmakers did pass a continuing resolution keeping the government open and funded through Nov. 17, and it is unclear whether they will pass another extension and hammer out the remaining bills in December.

"It's early," said John Scofield, spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee.

The lame-duck Congress does have options, though.

For one, they could roll all the remaining appropriations bills into a single "omnibus" package that would allow the lawmakers to take up everything all at once.

Congress could also pass a continuing resolution that extends into next year, keeping agencies funded at fiscal 2006 levels. This would mean the government would stay open but that no new programs would be funded.

The remaining appropriations bills are:

  • Agriculture Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies
  • Military Construction, Military Quality of Life, and Veterans Affairs (House); Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (Senate)
  • Energy and Water
  • Interior, Environment and related agencies
  • Labor, Health and Human Services and Education
  • Science, State, Justice and Commerce
  • State and Foreign Operations
  • Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and related agencies (House); Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, and related agencies (Senate).

Rob Thormeyer is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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