Not Over Yet: What’s Next in Spending Showdown?

With the Senate passing a different version of a spending bill last night than the House of Representatives passed last week, the House must now get in synch with the Senate’s bill and there are still a few obstacles House Speaker John Boehner must overcome before a government shutdown has been 100 percent averted.

The Senate’s bill spends $1.043 trillion (the number previously agreed to by Congress in the prior spending battles) for the 2012 fiscal year that starts Saturday, Oct. 1 and wires $2.65 billion to FEMA. The House’s version had $1 billion in additional money for disaster relief to get FEMA through the end of this fiscal year, and the extra funds were off-set with $1.51 billion in cuts to two clean energy programs. The Senate’s bill that passed last night did not include those off-sets or the supplemental funding for this year, since FEMA discovered enough cash to keep the agency open through the end of the week.

Last night, the Senate also passed short-term bridge that would maintain spending levels through Oct. 4. The House is scheduled to meet for its second pro forma session of the week on Thursday, when it’s expected that the House will approve the Senate’s “Bridge CR” under an unanimous consent request, also known as a voice vote.

As long as no rogue lawmaker shows up to withhold his or her consent, the House should approve the short-term bill. This would afford the House the time to come back next week for a full roll call vote on the Senate’s CR that funds the government through Nov. 18, rather than cut this week’s holiday recess short.

Last night, House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team held a conference call, where the decision was made that there will not be any roll call votes in the House for the remainder of the week. Apparently they’re confident that the voice vote on the short-term CR will pass, and lawmakers could come back next week to put to the votes together and pass the Senate’s long-term bill.

The House’s next roll call votes are scheduled for Monday, October 3 at 6:30 p.m. The full floor schedule for next week has not been announced yet, but it’s expected that the House will wait until Tuesday, Oct. 4, to approve the Senate’s long-term bill to send it on to the president’s desk.

Nothing like going right down to the wire, but then again, this Cardiac Congress would have it no other way.