Today, the House passed (319-108) a FY2015 Continuing Resolution (CR), H.J. Res 124, which would fund the federal government until December 11. The bill sets the discretionary funding level for the federal government during CR period at an annual rate of $1.012 trillion.
The House passed the CR after debating and approving (273-156) an amendment that would authorize support (training and arming) for Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces. “This amendment is of great importance to our national security, and attaching it to this Continuing Resolution will allow its enactment within a swift timeframe,” said House Appropriations Committee chair Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY).
A CR is necessary because less than two weeks remain until the beginning of FY2015 and Congress has not passed any of the 12 appropriations bills. The House has passed seven appropriations bills (including DoD and Military Construction/VA) and approved another four through the full House Appropriations Committee (the HAC has not approved the Labor, HHS bill). The full Senate has not considered a single appropriations bill and the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) has approved only eight bills (including DoD and Military Construction/VA).
The CR “is merely a temporary, Band-Aid funding measure,” Rogers said. But, he stressed, now it is “the most clear path forward—allowing time to draft bicameral pieces of legislation that reflect our real and budgetary requirements.” Final action on FY2015 appropriations bills will have to occur in a lame duck session of Congress after the November mid-term elections. That session is expected to begin right after Veterans Day.
Other than the amendment to authorize support for the Syrian rebels, the House CR is relatively clean of controversial extraneous matters. But, it does include a number of provisions that the Appropriations Committee described as necessary” to prevent catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental changes to government programs, to address current national or global crises, or to ensure good government.”
The bill would extend expiring Department of Defense (DoD) activities, such as counterdrug activities and support of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, and provide State Department funding to counter regional aggression toward Ukraine. Additional Veterans Affairs funding is included to process disability claims and to investigate improper conduct and the Customs and Border Protection would receive funding flexibility to address urgent problems. The bill also includes funding $88 million) requested by the administration to address the Ebola crisis.
Addressing two issues that Congress is currently debating, the House CR includes funds to extend the operating authority of the Export Import Bank through June 30, 2015 and to extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act through Dec 11, 2014.
Under the CR, agencies cannot start any new programs or increase production rates and could not initiate any multiyear procurements during the CR period.
The Senate is expected to consider the CR over the next week.