Lawmakers Approve Budget for Remainder of 2011

April 19, 2011

While the federal government once again avoided a complete shutdown in the waning hours of April 8, House and Senate leaders late last week approved the budget for the remainder of FY2011. The legislation, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 (H.R. 1473), was signed into law on April 15.

The legislation was offered April 11 and by April 14 both the House and Senate had approved the measure, clearing the way for President Barack Obama’s signature. House Republicans—particularly those associated with the conservative tea party—were disappointed with the compromise, however the bill passed 260-167 with 81 Democrats voting in favor and 59 Republicans opposing the bill. The Senate promptly approved the measure 81-19.

In addition to some $38.5 billion in cuts from current spending levels, the budget includes a provision to repeal the Free Choice Voucher program as passed under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which would have required employers to provide vouchers to certain employees to use toward insurance coverage in the health insurance exchanges. The budget also reduces funds that can be used to create private non-profit insurance plans, also known as Co-Ops, under PPACA.

Immediately following the passage of this stopgap measure that will fund the government through Sept. 30, 2011, House lawmakers began debating the FY 2012 Budget Resolution. The House approved a measure offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on April 15 along party lines. It is unlikely Ryan’s proposal will gain traction in the Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats.

Meanwhile, President Obama has offered his own thoughts on the budget and deficit reduction in recent days.