“Herculean Task” to Write 2011 Budget Bill

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is fond of saying "nothing is decided until everything is decided."

Well, despite the machinations of last night, everything is still not decided.

House and Senate appropriators began churning through writing the broader bill overnight to fund the rest of fiscal year 2011. They hope to post this bill late Monday, just before midnight; the bill would then wind its way through the rules committee Tuesday and hit the House floor Wednesday. One GOP aide said, "This will be a Herculean task to get this written."

But sources tell Fox News there are only about five or six issues resolved. House and Senate negotiators need to go through the bill and resolve about 100 issues--and go through the bill line by line.

Some of the more controversial matters yet to be decided:

Funding for NASA's Constellation exploration program. Remember that Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. has pushed hard to sustain the funding for this.

Endangered Species. After last year's California drought, there are some serious restrictions that were imposed on water use. Now, they want to limit that water use to preserve some fish species.

Needle exchange programs. These programs are designed to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases common among IV drug users. The debate is whether to fund them in D.C. and other states.

Homeowners associations. The opportunity for homeowner's associations to apply for federal grants for pool and spa safety programs may be up in the air.

Environmental issues. The House is heated over a Senate provision that waives a price cap for the federal government when it purchases a "green" vehicle. There are also several clean air provisions, beyond the EPA and CO2 measures that were not put into the broader bill. There is a provision Republicans favor that would exempt some ponds and creeks, particularly on farms, from being subject to the EPA's "Navigable Waterways" restrictions.

Now to the operational problems here.

Note that the House set its meeting time at 11pm Monday. That's right. Post Meridian. That is an effort to accomplish two things. First, the late start maximizes the amount of time appropriators have to write the bill. But at the same time, they face a time crunch on the other side. They want to post the bill late Monday night so Monday technically counts as one of the three days they have the bill available for lawmakers and the public to review.

Posting it on Monday sets up the following timetable:

On Tuesday, go to the House Rules Committee to establish a blueprint for bringing the legislation to the floor....and then put the actual legislation the House floor for a debate and vote Wednesday.

Second, though perhaps an unrelated matter, posting the bill late Monday could help gin up votes. Sources say they could put the 2012 budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on the floor Thursday. It's thought that his budget actually helps win some votes from conservatives who want deeper cuts. And Ryan's budget slashes trillions.

"Nettlesome is a good word," said one aide, describing the bill battles ahead. "But they'll get it resolved."