An expected spending agreement would keep the government functioning, add some funding for high-priority programs.
Members of the House of Representatives this week are beginning deliberations of a continuing resolution for fiscal 2013 that will fund the government through March 27, and is expected to pass in both chambers before the end of the fiscal year.
The House bill adheres to last August’s Budget Control Act, which set the debt ceiling at $1.047 trillion for 2013. The legislation totals $26.6 billion less than last year’s continuing resolution.
The stopgap measure will, for the most part, keep funding at current levels, with a few exceptions. It maintains a federal pay freeze through April and includes nearly $90 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other global military operations.
The legislation adds funding to a handful of programs, including for Homeland Security Department cybersecurity efforts, processing veterans disability claims, nuclear weapons modernization, weather satellite launches and other programs considered to be high-priority.
Also included in the bill is a provision requiring federal agencies to provide spending plans to Congress “to ensure transparency and the proper use of taxpayer dollars,” according to a Sept. 10 release from the House Appropriations Committee.
If it passes, the continuing resolution will allow the government to avoid the threat of a shutdown, at least for now. But some representatives expressed frustrations with yet another stopgap measure – the product of Congress’ failure to enact fiscal legislation over the course of the year.
“The CR being introduced today is a good-faith effort to provide limited, yet fair and adequate funding for government programs and services until March 27, or until final appropriations legislation can be approved. This bill is very restricted in its scope, does not contain extensive or controversial policy riders or funding levels that dramatically differ from current levels, and protects critical funding for our national defense,” Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), committee chair, said in a statement. “However, while important, this bill essentially punts on the core duty of Congress to complete its annual appropriations and budget work.”
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), the committee’s ranking member, also took a swipe at the continuing resolution in his own statement.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is that Congress return to consider regular appropriations bills,” Dicks said. “A continuing resolution does not provide the guidance federal programs need to operate effectively.”
House members are expected to vote on the continuing resolution by Sept. 14, with the Senate expected to take up the bill the following week.