Stop-Gap Funding Measure Expires Friday

November 16, 2011

On Friday, Nov. 18, the short-term continuing resolution (CR) extending the funding of critical agencies and programs which passed in September will run out. Due to an inability to approve appropriations bills that fund the U.S. government, Congress has instead utilized CR’s to ensure the continuation of various agencies at their current funding level. Two key small-business programs: the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) were included in the last CR.

Congress is expected to approve yet another short-term CR this Friday that will extend various programs through Dec. 16. In addition to the CR, members of the appropriations conference committees have been meeting and working on a conference report—also referred to as a “minibus”—that would combine funding for all agencies under the Appropriations Committees for Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD, minus the Department of Homeland Security. Specifically, the departments included in the minibus are Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, along with NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

This spending package is just over $182 billion with both Democrats and Republicans agreeing to cuts based on the debt ceiling agreement back in August that requires lowering discretionary spending. With negotiations tense among “Super Committee” members and their looming deadline of Nov. 23 to come up with a long-term debt reduction plan, appropriations conferees have placed a higher priority in reigning-in spending .

Although the SBIR Program and Ex-Im Bank were included in the last CR, it was primarily due to their authorizations running out. Now on its 13th CR, the SBIR program has been the subject of intense debate for several years with the House failing to accept the compromise crafted by the Senate and approved by all stakeholders, including NSBA. Ex-Im Bank reauthorization is likely to move forward as soon as Congress sets aside time to vote on the measure which already has been approved by both the House and Senate committees of oversight.

Both the SBIR program and Ex-Im Bank are expected to be included in the short-term CR that is likely to be passed this Friday.