House Begins Summerlong Debate on Spending Bills

By ANDREW TAYLOR | June 1, 2011 | 3:12 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is kicking off what is expected to be a summerlong debate over government spending. First up is a homeland security bill that adds almost $2 billion to disaster aid accounts.

The $42.3 billion homeland security measure is one of 12 annual spending bills that provide money to federal agencies. It's being followed Thursday by a measure that increases funding for veterans programs.

Far more stringent bills cutting health research, student aid, food aid for low-income pregnant women, and energy efficiency programs are to come next.

Congressional fights over the day-to-day budgets of domestic agencies will run parallel to efforts to negotiate spending cuts as part of any effort to increase the $14.3 trillion limit on the government's ability to borrow, the so-called debt ceiling.