September 24, 2010
Congress is likely to wait until the last day of the fiscal year to pass a continuing resolution extending this year’s federal spending levels into Fiscal Year 2011. The current 2010 fiscal year ends on Thursday, September 30. The House will not be in voting session again until Wednesday so will not be in a position to pass a continuing resolution until then. The Senate is expected to do the same on Thursday, though there is still some lingering debate over which body should go first.
Each year, Congress attempts to pass a new appropriations bills to fund discretionary government programs. In years it fails to do so by the start of the new fiscal year it instead passes a continuing resolution to extend the current year’s budget for a given period of time. In this year’s case, the continuing resolution will likely run out in late November or early December, after the November elections.
Upon its return to Washington in November after the elections, the lame duck Congress will either pass a new appropriations bill or another continuing resolution. Our strong hope is the real bill, with the revised spending levels, will be approved by December. If not, a second continuing resolution would likely extend through February or March of next year.
We are still holding out hope that Congress will use the “must pass” continuing resolution as the vehicle for providing emergency funding to fulfill the federal obligation in the Pigford II settlement between black farmers and USDA. It is probably the last best hope that funding for the discrimination claims will be provided prior to the elections. However, as of press time today, the effort to get this accomplished next week is frankly looking like an uphill battle.
Senate Democratic leadership decided on Thursday to put off the issue of extending some or all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts until the lame duck session, thus leaving both the appropriations measures and the big tax measure for the post-election lame duck session.
NSAC will continue to monitor the appropriations process, and will update readers next week when the continuing resolution comes to the floor and is presumably passed. At this point we expect it to be a fairly “clean” bill with few if any new spending items attached. We plan, however, to keep pushing for Pigford funding to be added to the bill.