“While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level,” he wrote. “I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level.”
Rogers last week called the spending level included in the debt deal a “responsible” amount that will save billions. He said he is committed to abiding by it.
“It is imperative that the Congress complete these must-pass bills in a timely manner to avoid the harmful, destabilizing effects caused by a delayed and drawn out Appropriations process,” he said.
The process has become so bogged down in recent years that there is little expectation that Congress can complete work on the bills by the time the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
But there is bipartisan optimism for swift agreement on a continuing resolution that will fund the government for a few weeks or months, followed by a broader agreement over how to divvy up funding for the 2012 fiscal year, perhaps by the end December.
The Senate has more work ahead of it than the House — it has passed only one of 12 separate spending bills, laying out appropriations for military construction and veterans affairs.
Leaders hope the debt deal will provide a framework to start. Beyond providing agreement on overall spending, it also provides guidance on how to prioritize spending, requiring that $684 billion spent be spent on security areas, including defense, and $359 billion be spent on non-security areas.
“Going through what we’ve gone through, everyone has realized there’s little benefit to a protracted, contentious fight like we’ve had all through this year,” said a House GOP aide.
But some freshmen member have continued to tout the Ryan budget, with its deeper spending cuts for the coming year, during meetings with constituents during the August recess — and they may not be anxious to adopt the debt deal’s higher spending levels.
“I think we should be looking for more,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), who is a member of the Appropriations Committee who voted against the debt deal. “The level set by the recent debt ceiling bill is really a ceiling. Congress has full authority to spend less than those levels.”
Leaders are hoping they will be able to quickly move the bills by relying on the same bipartisan votes that approved the debt deal.
But they will likely take heat from the 66 Republicans who opposed the deal on the grounds that it cut too little and the 95 Democrats who voted against it because they believed it cut too much.
And the two sides could also clash over issues other than spending — policy riders attached to the measures, including proposals to scale back the Democrats’ health care law and restrain the Environmental Protection Agency.
For hundreds of thousands of federal employees, a smooth appropriations process would mean not having to worry about a shutdown in coming months.
But the the deep cuts agreed to in the debt deal means workers will not exactly be breathing easily, said John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 600,000 employees of 44 federal agencies.
“It’d be good if some agreement could be made,” he said. “But I don’t’ think you’ll see federal employees dancing in the streets.”