US House eyes funding for Dodd-Frank, other needs

Mon Dec 6, 2010 4:37pm EST

* Administration programs on hold due to spending snafu

* $1.1 bln price tag lower than administration request

* Would make Republican-backed budget cuts harder

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to vote this week on a measure that could fund the new Dodd-Frank financial-industry crackdown and other priorities of the Obama administration, aides said on Monday.

Though the spending bill has not taken its final shape, it could give the administration the resources it has requested for Dodd-Frank, counter-insurgency efforts, nuclear nonproliferation and other initiatives that have been stalled due to a partisan standoff in Congress over spending.

It also would secure funding for government operations through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. That would make it more difficult for Republicans to enact immediate budget cuts when they take control of the House in January.

But its total price -- roughly $1.1 trillion, according to a Senate aide -- would be billions of dollars less than the administration sought in its original request.

Though the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, the government has been operating essentially on automatic pilot because Congress has failed to pass the 12 bills needed to fund government operations.

Through a series of "continuing resolutions," lawmakers have extended last year's budget through Dec. 18 to buy time to wrap up their work.

This approach has allowed everything from national parks to job-training programs to continue operating, but it has prevented government agencies from handing out new research grants, starting new construction projects and launching other initiatives.

VAST DERIVATIVES MARKET

The Commodity Futures Exchange Commission, for example, has had no increase in funding as it begins the mammoth task of cracking down on the vast derivatives market as outlined under Dodd-Frank, the wide-ranging rewrite of financial regulations named after the two Democratic lawmakers who oversaw its

passage earlier this year.

Senate Democrats hope to pass all 12 bills in one massive package, but it is unclear whether they will be able to overcome expected Republican opposition.

The bill taking shape in the House would extend the "continuing resolution" through the end of the fiscal year. It would require considerable tweaking, however, to allow government agencies to ramp down programs that are no longer needed, such as the once-in-a-decade census, and move forward with initiatives like Dodd-Frank.

The administration has sent Congress a list of dozens of such "anomalies" that it hopes appropriators will add to the continuing resolution, according to a document obtained by Reuters.

Many of these requests are likely to be included in the final bill, a Senate Democratic aide said.

Among them:

- $75 million for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a 45 percent increase over 2010 levels, to hire the additional staff needed to carry out its expanded role under Dodd-Frank;

- $16.7 million more for the Treasury Department, a 5 percent increase, for Dodd-Frank;

- a $400 million transfer of funds within the Defense Department for military construction projects in Afghanistan to support counterinsurgency objectives there;

- $1.8 billion for Defense Department health costs;

- $550 million for nuclear nonproliferation efforts;

- $470 million for nuclear and alternative-energy subsidies;

- $800 million for the Education Department's "Race to the Top" program

- $1.8 billion more for foreign aid, including $200 million for counterinsurgency efforts in Pakistan.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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