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Congress strikes 2012 budget deal for some agencies

Nov. 15, 2011 - 03:13PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
If the deal is passed by the full House and Senate, it would mark the first time Congress has approved an annual appropriations bill since 2009.
If the deal is passed by the full House and Senate, it would mark the first time Congress has approved an annual appropriations bill since 2009. (Mladen Antonow / AFP via Getty Images)

House and Senate negotiators have struck a deal on the 2012 budgets for five Cabinet-level departments, as well as NASA and a number of smaller agencies. The measure also would extend short-term funding for other agencies until Dec. 16 at close to last year's levels. An existing continuing resolution expires Friday, meaning the new measure must pass before then to avert a partial government shutdown.

Besides NASA, the $128 billion bill covers the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development departments.

If passed by the full House and Senate, it would mark the first time that Congress has approved an annual appropriations bill as opposed to a CR since 2009.

For many programs, the bill would cut spending from last year's levels, according to the House Appropriations Committee.

Discretionary spending at the Agriculture Department, for example, would be trimmed by $350 million almost 2 percent from last year's $20.2 billion level. NASA would get $17.8 billion, a 3.5 percent cut over last year. Among major agencies, the hardest hit would be HUD, whose budget would drop more than 11 percent to $37.3 billion.

Conversely, the Transportation Department would see a funding jump of $4.1 billion to $17.8 billion, although that figure is $14.7 billion less than the Obama administration's request for 2012.

Lawmakers generally rebuffed the White House's call for budget increases for agencies picking up new or heightened responsibilities. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, for example, would essentially be level-funded at $205 million, even though it is charged with regulating a $3 trillion derivatives market under the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul approved last year.

Legislators also denied an administration request to create a National Climate Service within the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The bill also would:

Fund the Justice Department at $27.1 billion, up $18 million from last year and $1.3 billion below the administration's request.

Fund the Commerce Department at $7.6 billion, up $26 million from last year and $1.2 billion below the administration's request.

Fund the National Science Foundation at $7 billion, $173 million above last year's level and $734 million below the administration's request.

Defer a legally required $5.5 billion "prepayment" by the U.S. Postal Service for retiree health care, this time until Dec. 16. That payment was originally due Sept. 30; USPS officials say they don't have the money to cover it.

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