Senate terminates 2020 budget debates, eyes approval next week

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2019 08:26 PM

MANILA - The Senate on Wednesday terminated interpellations on government’s proposed P4.1-trillion budget for 2020 and is eyeing approval of the spending bill next week.

Senators hope to approve the spending bill on second and third reading by next week, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a statement.

“We will have the period of amendments on Monday, and we can pass it on third reading also on Monday,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri told ABS-CBN News.

Once the general appropriations bill hurdles the chamber, the Senate and the House of Representatives will convene in a bicameral conference to reconcile disparities in the proposed 2020 budget.

The bicameral debates, expected to be scheduled on the first week of December, “will be unpredictable,” Sotto said.

“We hope they (House members) will remain level-headed and open-minded during the discussion,” the Senate President said.

“We expect healthy debates among members of the bicameral panel as they thresh out and reconcile the differences in our respective versions of the measure,” he said.

The passage of the 2019 budget was delayed for about 4 months after several deadlocks between the Senate and the House over alleged insertions favoring allies of then House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Sotto said Congress wants to have the proposed 2020 budget signed into law before December 20, when both chambers go on Christmas break.