Congress Gets Homework In On Time. Sort of.
Had you been in the halls of the Capitol building at 10:00 p.m. last Wednesday night, you might have been surprised to see all the lights still on. That’s because Congress was scrambling to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded, and they succeeded — just in the nick of time. President Obama signed the House- and Senate-passed stopgap funding measure just two days before the start of the new fiscal year, averting a government shutdown. CRs fund federal agencies at the previous year’s level, which means no new programs can be created. This short-term bill will keep the lights on at federal agencies through December 9 and has a special provision to provide $500 million in aid for Louisiana and other states devastated by recent flooding.
Bipartisan bickering has plagued the appropriations process again this year, with disagreements over everything from defense agency funds to environmental and conservation programs. While hundreds of thousands of federal employees breathed a sigh of relief that they were at work today, Congress’ inability to pass all individual appropriations bills over the last 20 years has been a growing concern, one whose impacts spread beyond just the bottom line of federal agencies. When legislators return after the November elections, work will resume on the spending bills before this CR expires.