After adopting the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill (H.R. 3093) 16 October, the Senate named conferees to work with House conferees on resolving differences between the two versions of the bill. However, concerns raised by House members about immigration and English-only language policies have postponed the conference committee meeting until after the Thanksgiving Day recess.

The final Senate version of the spending measure would provide $54.4 billion in discretionary funding for CJS programs, including the National Science Foundation. The Senate CJS level is just above the $53.6 billion approved by the House and roughly $3 billion above the President’s request.

Of the $54.4 billion in the Senate CJS bill, the National Science Foundation would receive $6.6 billion for FY 2008, which is $124 million above the President’s request, $636 million above the FY 2007 enacted level, and $44 million more than the House version of the bill.

The Bush Administration has indicated its opposition to the funding legislation stating, “…In combination with the other FY 2008 appropriations bills, it [CJS] includes an irresponsible and excessive level of spending and includes other objectionable provisions.”

The Senate approved the FY 2008 Appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies on 23 October 2007. The bill, containing only FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations (H.R. 3043), (Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations were removed by the Senate) was vetoed by the President on 13 November and failed to receive the requisite two-thirds of the votes in the House.

The only spending measure to become law thus far has been FY 2008 Appropriations for the Department of Defense (H.R. 3222) that was signed by the President on 13 November. A second “continuing resolution” was passed on the same day to provide funding for federal agencies through 14 December.

With several outstanding presidential veto threats and just three weeks in December to enact the remaining 11 spending bills, the Democrats recently announced a new appropriations strategy. They plan to cut overall discretionary spending by $10.6 billion – initially the Democratic budget would have spent $21.2 billion more than the President’s $932.8 billion request. It is unclear how exactly these cuts would impact each specific spending bill.

 


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