March 30, 2011
Negotiations on the FY11 budget continued yesterday mostly through competing press conferences where Republicans and Democrats traded blame, with little indication of any movement toward a compromise. The likelihood of government shutdown remains high as Democrats continued to argue that GOP leaders were refusing to compromise because they didn’t want to upset conservatives and tea party groups, while Republicans argued that Democrats didn’t yet have a unified position from which to negotiate. It has now been 39 days since the House passed its FY11 bill, HR 1, which would cut $61.5 billion in discretionary spending for the remaining six months of the fiscal year.
The current continuing resolution (CR) doesn’t expire until April 8, next Friday night, but it will take some time to draft a legislative package once the outline of a deal is reached. And until a top-line spending figure is agreed to, negotiators can’t determine the extent of cuts and hence the specific funding levels for individual agencies and programs. The practical deadline to reach a deal may be the end of this week, which would then provide the weekend for drafting the measure so House Republicans could post it on their web site as soon as possible early next week to comply with House rules requiring that legislation be publicly available for 72 hours before votes occur. It’s because of this that the media is reporting that there is a real potential for a government shutdown.
The Office of Federal Relations continues to urge our Congressional Delegation to oppose reductions to federal research and training accounts that would take them below FY10 levels.