Federal Relations

September 15, 2011

Continuing Resolution Through Nov 18

The House released details of their continuing resolution (CR) proposal yesterday, which would fund federal government operations through November 18th.  The federal fiscal year ends on September 30th, and Congress is far from completing work on FY12 appropriations.  The measure would fund the government at the $1.043 trillion annual level included in the debt limit agreement (PL 112-25), which is 1.4 percent below current levels.  It also includes $3.65 billion in disaster aid money for both FY11 and FY12, with $1 billion of that funding offset with cuts to a Department of Energy vehicle efficiency program.  Several House Democrats, including our own Norm Dicks, have expressed concerns about the offsets used to fund disaster relief.  This opposition could complicate the bills progress.  House and Senate leaders hope to move the measure by the end of next week with both chambers slated to go into recess during the last week of September.

Meanwhile, Senate appropriators continue to press forward on their FY12 spending bills, including Defense and Commerce-Justice-Science (C-J-S).  The Senate subcommittee approved the C-J-S bill yesterday that would provide $52.7 billion, $626 million below current levels, and $2.1 billion above the level set in the House version of the same bill (HR 2596).  In order to prioritize certain accounts, Senate Democrats propose eliminating funding for 30 programs that had been supported in the FY11 measure.   We are waiting to see the final version of the bill, to be released later today, to fully understand the implications of these eliminations.

The Senate draft C-J-S bill would fund NSF at $6.7 billion, which is $162 million, or 2.4 percent, below the FY11 enacted level.  NASA would receive $17.9 billion, which is $509 million, or 2.8 percent, below the FY11 enacted level.  The measure includes $530 million for the James Webb Space Telescope, an amount that would enable sufficient progress to aim for launch of the space telescope by 2018.  The bill is scheduled for markup in the full Senate Appropriations Committee this afternoon.