Congressional negotiators working on an omnibus spending bill expect an agreement by Friday, but debate over some parts of the legislation including defense spending could force lawmakers to green-light a stopgap funding measure as they wrap up loose ends.
Senate staffers said the goal is to present a bipartisan bill to House and Senate leaders by Friday. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said agreements were reached over the holidays on many portions of the bill, including budgets for the Department of Veterans Affairs and Military Construction.
But debate on Defense, Interior, Labor and other spending bills could delay final passage past the Jan. 15 deadline, forcing Congress to pass an interim continuing resolution to continue funding the government.
Regarding the defense bill, lawmakers must trim more than $25 billion and $31 billion respectively from the House and Senate versions to meet the requirements of the budget deal passed last month by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
That legislation, the Bipartisan Budget Act, allows $1.012 trillion in discretionary spending for fiscal 2014, including $520.5 billion for defense.
When approved, the omnibus bill will fund the government through Sept. 30.