Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Boehner (R-OH), with support from President Obama, agreed on July 30, 2012, to pursue enactment of legislation that would fund federal programs for the first six months of FY 2013 (October 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013) under a Continuing Resolution (CR). The legislation will be drafted during the August congressional recess and voted on in September. Senator Reid has indicated that it will be a “clean” CR without policy riders, but already some members have made it known that they will work for policy riders on issues including abortion and thwarting of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
A six-month CR would likely fund programs at their pro rata FY 2012 level, with no funding for new projects or programs. Planning will be difficult, especially for administration of programs that are not advance funded. Tribal governments and others will know their funding level for the first six months of the fiscal year but will likely not know until well into the fiscal year what to to expect for the final six months.
Supporters of a six-month CR make the point that Congress needs to focus its attention in the lame duck session of Congress (which convenes following the November elections) on finding a way to avert a massive sequestration of funds scheduled to take place in January and to deal with the expiring tax cuts. Not everyone is pleased with this plan. Appropriators in particular are not enthusiastic about this scenario and face seeing the work they have done on FY 2013 appropriations disappear. The House has approved six appropriations bills and marked up all except one, while the Senate Appropriations Committee has marked up all but one bill (none have gone to the Senate floor).
Congressional conservatives, who reluctantly agreed to a higher funding cap than they wanted, are hoping for a strengthened voice in the House and a Republican majority Senate in the 113th Congress. Under a six-month CR, the 113th Congress will decide on final FY 2013 funding levels and policies.
Under the congressional leadership agreement FY 2013 funding would be capped at $1.047 trillion, an amount set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (PL 112-25), which is $19 billion more than the amount being advocated by House conservatives. The FY 2012 spending cap was $1.043 trillion.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding the proposed Continuing Resolution. We will continue to follow developments on FY 2013 appropriations.