With one week remaining before the beginning of the new fiscal year, Congress will take no further action on FY2011 appropriations bills until after the November elections and send a Continuing Resolution to the president to keep the government operating. Congress had been expected to adjourn October 8 to hit the campaign trail. However, members from both sides of the aisle have been pressuring to complete their work earlier. Senate leaders appear to have agreed and will delay action on the tax cut extension and other major legislation until November. This will clear the way for a vote on the CR next week and adjournment by October 1. The questions now are: how long will the CR last and which agencies will it cover. Most likely the CR will be shorter rather than longer, at least initially. The White House has been urging Congress to pass a CR until December, but Congress appears to be considering a shorter period—about six weeks—with the expectation of returning for a short “lame duck” session after the elections. Because no FY2011 appropriations bills have yet been sent to the president, this CR will include all agencies. To date the full House has passed two appropriations bills (Military Construction/VA and Transportation/HUD), but the House Appropriations Committee has taken no action on the remaining 10 bills. Senate republicans have resisted efforts to move bills forward trying to cut another $13 billion from the total $1.12 trillion allocated to the 12 appropriations committees. So, while the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved 11 of the 12 bills (including the DoD bill), the full Senate has not passed any appropriations bills. The administration and some Senators and Members would like the CR to include extra funding for individual programs, such as education and health care, and also some special authorizations. But, as has been the case in most past, it appears that the initial CR will be “clean” (i.e., extending funding only at the FY2010 program levels). What will happen in the “lame duck” session is anyone’s guess. Congress could pass a few bills, for example the “security” bills (DoD, MilCon/VA, and Homeland Security), and wrap the remaining bills in an "omnibus" appropriation for the full year. Or it could pass a “must pass” bill (such as the DoD bill) and include all the remaining bills in it. Follow Financial Highlights to track congressional action on the CR and FY2011 DoD appropriations bills.
FY2011 Continuing Resolution Countdown
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