Both chambers of Congress passed last night a three-bill package of appropriations bills that also included a new congressional resolution that will keep the federal government running through December 16. The measure is now on its way to the White House and is awaiting the president’s signature.

In the House, the legislation was approved on a vote of 298-121, after a short debate.  Action in the Senate followed a few hours later, with the bill clearing on a vote of 70-30.

One of the three bills included in this “minibus” is the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R.2112) and it contains language that “defunds”  USDA’s proposed rule on the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA).  The language prohibits the agency from writing, preparing, or publishing a final rule or an interim final rule unless the combined annual cost to the industry exceeds $100,000,000.  Additional language added in conference states that, if the annual cost threshold is not met and the rule can be written, it must be published in the Federal Register no later than December 9, 2011 and none of the funds may be used to implement such a rule until 60 days from the publication date of the rule.

H.R. 2112 totals nearly $19.8 billion for USDA and includes $1,000,000 for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for the control of outbreaks for animal diseases; $52,000,000 to be used to support avian health, and $2,750,000 for the National Veterinary Stockpile. The total budget for Food Safety and Inspection Services is $1,004,427,000 of which $1,000,000 my be collected for the cost of laboratory accreditation.

President Obama’s signature will mean that three of the regular appropriations bills–Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Science; and Transportation, Housing,  and Urban Development–will be enacted and funding for agencies covered by those measures is ensured for the new fiscal year that began October 1.  But the other nine bills remain unfinished, and appropriators in both chambers said they expect the next step will be to roll those into one large omnibus spending package that moves in December.