An Appropriations Hiccup – House Delays Consideration of Continuing Resolution to Keep Government Operating
Earlier this week the House appeared poised to move swiftly to consideration and passage of H.J. Res. 59, the FY 2014 continuing resolution (or C.R.), which would keep the functions of the government operating between the upcoming start of the new federal fiscal year (October 1st) through December 15, 2013. Unlike traditional appropriations measures, which can be hundreds of pages long, this draft stop-gap measure clocks in on the Government Printing Office (GPO) website at a mere 16 pages.
Generally the C.R. maintains virtually everything “at a rate for operations as provided in the applicable appropriations Acts for fiscal year 2013.” In plain English, this means that Congress basically is keeping the lights on for the federal government at the same funding levels as the previous year. However, the bill does contain a number of “anomalies,” which are a means through which Congress can adjust funding levels for specific programs in a C.R. to be higher or lower than the previous year’s funding level. For example, the bill includes two specific line-item appropriations additional funding for both the Department of Interior’s Wildland Fire Management program and the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Wildland Fire Management “for urgent wildland fire suppression activities” to help address fires in the west, including Yosemite.
House Republican leaders introduced the funding measure on Tuesday, with plans to bring the measure to the House floor today for a vote. To address requests from a bloc of their members, the House GOP leadership had planned to link the stopgap funding measure to language that would defund implementation of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ACA, health care reform or ObamaCare) in the coming year. The original plan was to have two sequential votes – one on the funding measure itself and a second on a separate resolution eliminating the funding for the ACA; following House passage, both measures would be sent to the Senate for consideration. However, a number of House Republicans have expressed significant concern that such a strategy would allow the Senate to ignore the ACA-related measure, given the chamber is in Democratic control. Given growing concern and opposition within the House Republican ranks, the leadership decided to delay today’s votes and take more time to build support for the legislative and procedural approach. As such, earlier today, House Majority Whip Eric Cantor announced to his members that the previously scheduled recess period for the week of September 23 could turn into a Washington work week as a C.R. must be passed by both chambers and sent to the President for enactment on or before September 30, otherwise the government will shut down. To follow the House legislative activity and calendar, visit: http://www.house.gov/legislative/.