June 21, 2010

Little Signs of Life in FY11 Appropriations Process

By jnurse

The consideration of FY11 spending bills has been delayed for weeks, largely due to the inability of the House and Senate to produce a budget resolution. Each year, one of the first steps Congress takes in the appropriations process is the development of a budget resolution. A budget resolution sets the spending limits for the 12 appropriations bills that Congress considers. The resolution is not a mandatory part of the process, but is one that many deem fiscally responsible. Moving forward in the appropriations process without a budget resolution is akin to a family spending money without ever setting a budget for itself.

Despite dozens of hearings on President Obama’s FY11 budget request and some committee staff action in developing the bills, the appropriations process has largely been placed on hold. The stalemate over a budget resolution combined with the necessary consideration of a FY10 supplemental spending bill and a package of tax break extensions has resulted in little recent action on the FY11 appropriations bills.

Early this week, leaders on the Hill gave some indication that they might hold subcommittee markups on a few appropriations bills prior to the July 4th congressional recess. Nonetheless, it remains highly improbable that Congress will send appropriations bills to the President until after the November mid-term elections. On October 1st, Congress will likely need to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating until it can pass the FY11 spending bills. A CR would continue government functions at existing (FY10) levels. However, it should be noted that congressionally directed appropriations that are a part of the FY11 process will not be funded until new spending measures are signed into law.

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