Stop Gap Budget

The month is almost over and Congress still hasn’t finished work on the budget for the fiscal year that started on October 1st, so lawmakers are poised to extend a temporary budget until early December.

Lawmakers gave themselves extra time at the end of September, when they had only finished one of the dozen annual spending bills for the 2010 Fiscal Year.

And in the last four weeks, they managed to finish three more bills, with a fourth getting added in today.

That gives them 5 of 12, which in the World Series would be a damn good batting average.

The bills that are finished cover Agriculture, the Legislative Branch, Energy & Water and Homeland Security.  The Interior bill will be added to that group as soon as today.

When I downloaded the conference report last night, I immediately checked it for earmarks, and I was not disappointed, as there are 71 pages of “Congressionally Directed Spending Items.”  Gotta love that name.

Even better was the hastily finished copy of the Interior report, which had “DRAFT – NOT FOR CIRCULATION” in big letters above the start of the earmark list.

I haven’t had the time to go through and find some sweet earmarks, so here’s just a few that you can chew on today over breakfast or coffee.

* $1,000,000 for “Mass Marking of Hatchery Fish In The Great Lakes”
* $150,000 for the “Caddo Lake Institute of Texas”
* $16.8 million for employee housing at the Grand Canyon
* $3.8 million to preserve Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C.
* $3.25 million for Land Acquisition in the Virgin Islands National Park
* $1.2 million for Land Acquisition in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia

So there’s just a few of the earmarks.

If you want to take a look at the Interior Appropriations bill and the earmarks, you can download the report at http://is.gd/4GB3s – the earmarks begin on page 295 and go through page 366.

That bill also has some extra language to extend a stop gap budget plan until December 18 of this year, giving Congress more time for budget work.

That pretty much also telegraphs how late in the year the Congress is going to be at work on the budget, let alone on health reform as well.