February 25, 2011
There were several important new developments on Thursday in the continuing saga of arriving at a government funding bill for the rest of fiscal year 2011.
House Republican leaders are getting ready to file a short-term extension of the existing short-term “continuing resolution” (CR) that is keeping the government running at fiscal year 2010 levels. In contrast to Senate Democrats’ opening offer from last week of a straight 30-day extension, the House GOP is now proffering a 2-week extension with approximately $4 billion in immediate budget cuts included. While the bill has not yet been released, it is rumored to include primarily items not likely to be opposed by Senate Democrats or the White House.
The current CR expires next Friday, March 4, so movement toward an agreement on a short-term fix is encouraging, reducing the chance for a government shutdown. However, there is not likely to be an agreement on the short-term fix without significant movement on negotiations over the long-term solution.
On that note, the Senate, which earlier this week was crafting an appropriations bill for the rest of the year at an overall level that froze spending at 2010 levels, is now working on a revised package with at least $8.5 billion in cuts. Many of those cuts are rumored to be crafted based on proposals in President Obama’s proposed budget for the following fiscal year (2012), making them something of a downpayment on the Obama request. It is expected that within that framework of an overall cut, there will be some programs that nonetheless see increases.
Whether the new, emerging offer from the Senate is based on any behind the scenes negotiations with the House, or whether it is more of a good will gesture is not entirely clear. What is clear is that the bill (H.R. 1) that actually passed in the House, with $60 billion in cuts, is miles apart from any final number the Senate Democrats and the White House could possibly agree to. Privately, many veteran House members recognize the House bill is a huge overreach. The difficulty, of course, is how to reel it back in yet maintain the support of enough of the large House GOP deficit hawk contingent, including many members of the new freshman class, to pass a final bill and avert a government shutdown.
It is too early to know what the chess piece moves in the last 24 hours mean for sustainable agriculture priorities. We will continue to alert readers as we learn more.
In the meantime, you can review our post on H.R. 1 here and our post on the Obama 2012 proposal here. To take action in support of sustainable agriculture funding priorities, go to our action alert here.
Categories: Budget and Appropriations