Appropriators had been hoping to move an FY2013 omnibus during the current lame duck session, but with time running out it now appears unlikely that they will move any FY2013 spending bills by the end of the year. Instead, Congress is most likely to pass another six-month CR to cover the remainder of FY2013, probably just before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires March 27th. Operating under CRs for an entire year has become a recent trend in election years. In two out of the past three election years, 2006 and 2010, the majority of annual spending bills were never completed, and scores of federal agencies were left operating at the prior year’s funding levels for the entire budget year.
A second six-month CR for FY2013 would likely contain a large number of special provisions to address urgent needs of federal agencies, inviting some of the same political battles that would have come with an omnibus. Some appropriators remained optimistic about clearing fiscal 2013 spending legislation early next year, noting that bipartisan agreements were in the works. But a new Congress would likely have little interest in considering FY2013 bills and would be more inclined to focus on the 2014 budget process instead.