Congress will have to quickly restart the appropriations process upon their return to Capitol Hill after their seven-week summer recess – the longest summer vacation Congress has taken in 60 years – to beat the Sept. 30 budget deadline.
Prior to leaving, progress was scant. Twelve spending bills are required to keep the government operating; to date, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have each passed its own version of all 12 bills, but only five have been passed by the full House and only three by the full Senate. None has been enacted into law.
Unless both chambers act at record speed, it appears likely a temporary stopgap funding measure will be needed to keep the government funded after the FY 2016 ends on Sept. 30.
Talk of what that measure might look like has already begun. Conservatives in the House and some top Republicans in the Senate are calling for a six-month stop-gap funding piece, known as a Continuing Resolution or CR, that would mostly keep FY 2016 funding levels in place, avoid a lame duck appropriations fight, and allow a new Congress and new president to be part of FY17 negotiations next year.
Appropriators in both chambers and most Democrats are opposed to that plan and instead prefer to do a shorter-term CR to buy time to hash out an omnibus, or combined spending measure, for FY 2017.
An omnibus would allow Congress to make changes in funding levels for programs and would last for the rest of the fiscal year, giving federal agencies more ability to plan based on evolving needs. Others, however, note that a CR is less likely to contain contentious policy changes or poison pill ‘riders’ than an omnibus. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the majority party have yet been able to come to agreement on spending strategy.
Info: https://budget.house.gov (website).