The Senate early Sunday morning passed (62-30) a six-month Continuing Resolution for FY2013. The House passed the CR the previous week so the bill now goes to the president who has indicated he will sign it.
After completing action on the CR, the Senate joined the House in adjourning until after the November election.
Sen. Dan Inouye (D-HI), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) expressed a sentiment about the six-month CRT that many in Congress share. Stating his support for the six-month CR Inouye called the bill “far from perfect,” but said “passing it is much better than allowing the Government to shut down over a lack of funding.”
Inouye also expressed his frustration about the need to resort to a six-month CR. He reminded the Senate that continuing resolutions are not new. “I have served in this Senate for 49 years and 9 months. During my tenure the Congress has only completed its work and enacted all of its spending bills without needing a continuing resolution on three occasions.” But, he lamented, “never before in history has the Congress passed a stop-gap resolution in September to fund the entire Government for half of the coming fiscal year.”
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Ranking Republican of the SAC also expressed dismay about the need to pass a lengthy CR. Cochran told the Senate he was frustrated that Congress has been unable to move forward on the FY2013 appropriations bills. “As a result of our inaction, we are compelled to pass this Continuing Resolution to fund the government. I would have preferred a shorter term CR in order to motivate action on the appropriations bills, but six months is what has been agreed to.”
The FY2013 CR 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.
The CR 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. The Veterans Benefits Administration (Department of Veterans Affairs) will get more funds to address the disability claims workload increase. The CR funds the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund at last year’s level, including the $6.4 billion provided in the Budget Control Act for disaster assistance.