In October 2008, Congress enacted a massive stopgap spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 that postponed most spending decisions until 2009. The bill, which froze nearly all domestic spending at 2008 levels, but provided spending increases for the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, military construction, and veterans’ affairs, will keep the government running until March 6, 2009.
Earlier this month, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said he expects the House to take up an FY 2009 omnibus spending bill after Congress returns from the Presidents’ Day recess, but prior to the March 6 deadline. The omnibus bill will include the nine remaining spending bills that the House and Senate did not pass last year, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill, which funds the U.S. Department of Education. The House had been scheduled to consider the bill earlier this month, but postponed a vote to allow lawmakers to focus on the economic recovery package. While Democrats will likely push for increases for certain programs in the omnibus bill, Republicans would rather see a year-long continuing resolution that would freeze funding at 2008 levels for all programs covered under the bill.