September 27, 2011

CR Agreement Finalized

By Brianna C. Fields

Late yesterday, Congressional leaders agreed to a deal that will avert a government shutdown as the end of the federal fiscal year looms.  The Senate approved a week-long continuing resolution (CR) that will run through October 4th, which is expected to be approved by the House – through a pro forma session – sometime on Thursday.  A longer term CR will still be necessary and will be the main topic of debate when both chambers reconvene next week after this week’s recess period.  The deal will do little, however, to end partisan fighting over FY12 spending.

The Senate bill is a considered a “clean” CR that will fund the federal government through October 4th at the $1.043 trillion limit set by the debt limit law (PL 112-25) enacted in August.  The bill would eliminate the $1 billion in fiscal 2011 disaster aid for the FEMA and Army Corps of Engineers included in the House version, as well as offsets for an energy loan program.  The House plans to approve the measure by voice vote in a pro forma session on Thursday, paving the way for the President to sign the measure and avoid a federal shutdown when the new fiscal year begins October 1st.

The overall deal was agreed to after the Senate passed a revised version of Majority Leader Reid’s six-week stopgap measure that would provide government funding through November 18th and eliminate disaster aid for FY11 and the energy offsets.  While both chambers favor the longer-term stopgap, it will not be cleared until next week after the House returns from recess and has had a chance to debate it.   Appropriators are expected to use the next six weeks to draft a year-end omnibus spending bill, but with partisan divisions forcing lawmakers to spend nearly two weeks on the short-term deal, it seems far from certain that an agreement can be reached by November 18th on a broader spending bill.

The good news for now is that we are avoiding a government shutdown but the path forward on FY12 appropriations is far from certain.

Sources:  Congressional  Quarterly, Roll Call

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