Congress wrapped up the 2nd session of the 109th Congress last week, staying late over the weekend to finish work on select pending legislation. The Senate confirmed nominations for Secretary of Defense and Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. The House approved the Tax Relief and Health Care Act (H.R. 6111) which passed the Senate on 7 December. Aside from these, however, Congress left town having failed to resolve the various fiscal year 2007 spending bills. The only two appropriations measures actually signed into law this year are the measures providing funding for the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.
Importantly, Congress did approve another continuing resolution to extend funding for federal agencies through 15 February 2007. Rumors around Washington are circulating as to whether the 110th Congress will simply extend the resolution to September 2007 when they return next year, or whether they are likely to pass a 'mini-omnibus' appropriations bill. Many beltway insiders believe the latter will likely be the case, as it would permit Congress to provide federal agencies with greater flexibility to operate. Some speculate that senior congressional Democrats are inclined to maintain the overall spending levels set by the Republican-controlled 109th Congress. Thus, funding for new programs is likely to be limited. Moreover, many believe that Congress will seek to restrain federal spending by providing agencies with the lower of their FY 2006 funding level, the House-passed FY 2007 number, or the Senate-passed FY 2007 number.
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