President Obama has signed a spending bill that sets 2012 budgets for five Cabinet-level departments, as well as NASA and a number of smaller agencies. The measure also extends short-term funding for other agencies until Dec. 16 at close to last year's levels. A previous continuing resolution (CR) was set to expire at midnight Friday, meaning that the new measure averts the possibility of a partial government shutdown for another four weeks.
Obama inked the measure Friday after it easily cleared the House and Senate on Thursday. Besides NASA, the $128 billion bill covers the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development departments.
The 2012 legislation marks the first time that Congress has approved an annual appropriations bill — as opposed to a CR — since late 2009. In the debate preceding Thursday's House vote, top lawmakers voiced hope that Congress could approve all remaining 2012 spending legislation by next month. The 2012 fiscal year began in October.
For many programs, the new bill cuts spending from last year's levels, according to the House Appropriations Committee. The bill also ends funding for some 20 programs, with a total savings of $456 million, the committee's chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said Thursday.
Discretionary spending at the Agriculture Department, for example, will 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 is HUD, whose budget drops more than 11 percent to $37.3 billion.
Conversely, the Transportation Department gets a funding jump of $4.1 billion to $17.8 billion, although that figure is $14.7 billion less than the Obama administration's 2012 request.
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 ex