Six-Month Continuing Resolution Likely to Pass This Week

September 11, 2012

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) introduced a temporary funding measure—known as a Continuing Resolution (CR)—to prevent a government shutdown and fund federal programs until March 27, 2013 (H.J.Res. 117). While the House Appropriations Committee has acted on all 12 annual spending bills—with the full House approving seven—the Senate has failed to approve a single bill. Due to the Senate’s inaction, a CR is necessary to continue federal programs and services until final legislation can be negotiated and approved.

The bill is restricted in its scope, does not contain extensive or controversial policy riders or funding levels that dramatically differ from current levels, and protects critical funding for our national defense. The legislation reflects the bipartisan agreement made by the House and Senate leadership and the White House to prevent a government shutdown, maintain the programs and services critical to the American people, and provide certainty and stability to ensure our continued economic recovery.

Specifically, the CR—set to go before the House Rules Committee on Wednesday afternoon—continues funding at the current rate of operations for federal agencies, programs and services. To meet the bipartisan agreement between the House, Senate and White House that ensured a total rate of operations at $1.047 trillion, a government-wide, across-the-board increase of 0.6 percent over the base rate also is included.

The bill continues funding for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) at last year’s level of $6.4 billion. This funding is used to provide relief and recovery efforts following disasters, such as the recent Hurricane Isaac. The bill also provides $88.5 billion in war-related funding for Department of Defense (DOD) Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), the amount requested by the Administration.

With Election Day less than two months away, Congress’ focus seems to be on the bare minimum: enacting the one must-pass piece of legislation to prevent a government shutdown when the budget year ends on Sept. 30. By passing a stopgap measure rather than adopting a budget, Congress will be kicking a multitude of fiscal decisions into next year, giving the next Congress time to come up with a full-year plan. Meanwhile, lawmakers will have six weeks after the election to sort out the fate of the Bush tax cuts and about $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts, among other pressing items.

The House could vote on the CR as early as Thursday with the Senate following suit shortly thereafter.