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Spending Bills Going Nowhere Fast

by David J. Hanson
July 12, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 28

Just two weeks before the summer recess and the first of the presidential nomination conventions, Congress has all but given up on passing most of the 13 appropriations bills that determine government spending for fiscal 2005.

It is expected now that most of the spending bills will be lumped into an omnibus spending package this fall and that Congress may wait until a lame-duck session after the November elections to see if either party gains a political advantage.

The House has passed four appropriations bills, and those bills slightly increase R&D funding for next year. The Defense Department bill (H.R. 4613) has a small increase in basic and applied research funding, and the Energy & Water appropriation bill (H.R. 4614) contains a 4% increase for the Energy Department’s Office of Science. The Department of Homeland Security appropriation (H.R. 4567) has also passed the House, including $2.5 billion for funding Project Bioshield, a program for stockpiling vaccines and treatments against chemical and biological attacks.

The Senate has passed the defense bill (S. 2559), but votes on other spending bills are unlikely. Senate appropriation subcommittees actually canceled hearings last week because of arguments over how much time should be devoted to debating the various bills. This inability to act is blamed on growing partisan fighting and mistrust that has made it nearly impossible to pass legislation in the Senate this election year.


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