The first bombardment likely will occur in the Senate, which last week began considering a package of three of the 12 annual spending bills, an effort designed to reduce the number of measures that likely will be folded into one package Congress will need to finish fiscal 2012 appropriations.
"We are working on an amendment list," a senior Democratic aide told Roll Call in an article published Monday.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., likely will force a vote on an amendment that would bar use of federal funds to regulate farm dust. Proposals from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would cut spending in the individual bills while Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said he's considering offering an amendment that would prevent the Food and Drug Administration from spending money on approving genetically engineered salmon.
The real battle over riders will be in the Republican-led House, where the leadership wants to use funding levels agreed to in the August debt deal and conservatives seeking deeper cuts in federal spending say they'll make their voices heard through policy riders.
A bulletin from the conservative Republican Study Committee listed riders the right considers priorities, Roll Call said, including a ban on federal funding for abortion providers, measures that would halt new environmental and Net neutrality regulations, and legislation that would strip funding for National Public Radio, the Palestinian Authority and the Legal Services Corp.
The problem facing House Speaker John Boehner is that rider-riddled spending bills won't pass the Senate and eliminating some riders likely will lose some Republican votes, meaning he may have to rely on Democrats, Roll Call said. But to get Democratic votes likely will mean Boehner would have to remove even more riders, losing even more Republicans.
A senior Senate Democratic aide expressed hope a compromise could be reached.
"The appropriations bills are not the place for them to act out on their anti-regulatory zeal," the aide said. "It's not the forum to make policy."