Bill averts shutdown, funds some agencies at 2012 levels

Friday - 11/18/2011, 8:05am EST

This story has been updated from its original version.

By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

(The Associated Press contributed to this report).

The President signed a collection of spending bills on along with a stopgap funding measure on Friday to keep the government open through the middle of next month.

The Senate passed the measure by a 70-30 vote, shortly after the House consented to the bill 298-121 on Thursday.

The "Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act", which contains three spending bills, known on Capitol Hill as a minibus — grouped-together appropriations bills covering $182 billion in agency spending.

They included: Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science agencies; and the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

(Click here for a breakdown of the minibus appropriation numbers.)

The second part of the bill contained another continuing resolution keeping the government open until Dec. 16.

It is now the second short-term spending measure Congress has passed since the fiscal year began Oct. 1. The first was set to expire today.

Despite objections from both sides of the aisle on a range of policy measures, final passage seemed likely.

"Both parties were eager to avoid further tarnishing Congress' ghastly public image, which took a beating after partisan standoffs nearly caused a government shutdown this past spring and a federal default in the summer," the Associated Press reported.

Under last summer's debt ceiling compromise, 2012 discretionary spending was capped at a little more than $1 trillion, which is about $7 billion less than 2011 levels. The appropriations bills passed as part of the minibus adhere to those numbers.

The continuing resolution that Congress tacked on to the appropriations bill buys lawmakers a bit more time to continue work on agency budgets.

Congress will probably attempt to move the stalled process forward using the same tactic it did this time: passing grouped-together bills, rather than each one individually.

However, lawmakers still have to write nine of those 12 annual spending bills for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1, covering giant agencies like the Pentagon and the Health and Human Services Department.

And the recommendations of the supercommittee, whose plans for cutting the deficit by more than $1 trillion over 10 years are due next week, will likely complicate matters.

Supporters of the spending bill like House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said the measure stuck by that compromise that Republicans and Obama reached last summer to limit this year's agency spending.

The bill will "help put our budget and our economy on track," Rogers said during Thursday's debate.