Today the president signed a FY2013 Continuing Resolution (CR) that will fund the government through March 27, 2013. The six-month CR was passed by the House and Senate before adjourning late last week for the November elections. Congress is expected to return the week of November 18 for a lame duck session.
The CR (H.J. Res. 117) will fund the government for six months at an annual level of $1.047 trillion, the amount set last year in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The CR freezes pay for federal civilians and members of Congress and their staff through the CR period as recommend by the president last month. It includes only a few program funding increases and a minimum of so-called “policy riders” (unrelated legislative provisions on specific issues that are attached to bills). For example, the nuclear weapons modernization effort will have additional funding related to the nuclear weapons stockpile. The Homeland Security will receive additional funds to sustain its cybersecurity program and the Veterans Benefits Administration (Department of Veterans Affairs) will get more funds to address the disability claims workload increase.
The House has passed seven FY2013 Appropriations bills and both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have both completed action on all but two bills (Interior and Environment and Labor/HHS/Education). Even so, it is doubtful that any floor action on appropriations bills will occur during the lame duck session.
Congress will likely spend most of the post-election session addressing the Bush tax cuts that will expire on December 31, the impending across-the-board cuts set to occur on January 2, 2013, the potential 30 percent increase in Medicare doctor fees, and the farm bill.