The process of spending bills came to an end early this week as all omnibus spending bills have cleared the House and Senate floors. The next step in the process will require common spending targets to be agreed to by the two bodies. House Republicans and Senate Democrats are still far apart on that agreement. A unified bottom line must be agreed to with regards to tax reductions, spending areas and amounts, and the size of the bonding bill. This “global agreement” has everything in a holding pattern for now.
With 18 days to go, an agreement has not yet been made as to how the spending bills will be conferred, much less as to the amounts. The House has passed three different appropriation bills, whereas the Senate rolled everything into one.
The Senate has a bonding bill in its Finance committee. It should pass to the Senate floor for final consideration on May 5.
Several items of interest for agriculture are contained in the Senate bill. These include:
- Expansion of the laboratory at the Dept. of Agriculture- $2.218 million
- AURI receives $606,000
- Rural Finance Agency for loan programs – $35 million
- Local road improvement money -$70 million
- Local bridge improvements – $80 million
- Lewis and Clark water project -$11.5 million
The Senate bonding bill has a price tag of $ 1.5 billion. The House has not yet delivered a bonding bill, but has indicated that their target is $600 million.
The Transportation conference committee, which was held over from last year, will meet today for the second time this session but no agreed target or funding source has been set.
The Tax conference committee held over from last year has yet to meet this session.
A great deal of work and compromise must take place in the next 18 days if things are to come together, but there is still enough time.