On September 9, 2014, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rogers
(R-KY) introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR), H. J. Res. 124, which would provide FY 2015 funding for federal agencies from the beginning of the fiscal year (October 1, 2014) through December 11, 2014. The CR would, by and large, provide funding on a pro rata basis at the FY 2014 levels under the authority and conditions of the FY 2014 Appropriations Act. Chairman Rogers attempted to keep the bill free of controversial funding or policy changes. The initial expectation was that the bill would be approved by the House within two or three days of introduction, but it has been delayed due to a range of objections. As of this writing, the House is expected to vote on H. J. Res. 124 on September 17. Attached is a House Appropriations summary of the Continuing Resolution.
Opposition. Initial opposition by some House Republican Members threatened to derail the CR. Their opposition focused primarily on the bill’s extension to June 30, 2015, of the operating authority of the Import-Export Bank Act and the last minute request of the President for authority and funding to assist Syrian rebels. Also at issue was the proposed end date of the CR with some calling instead for a March 1, 2015 end date.
However, after a hastily called meeting of House Republican Members, there appears to be agreement to let the bill go to the floor as introduced. The outstanding question left to be resolved is funding for U.S. support of the Syrian rebels. It is also possible that the $88 million in the bill to help address the Ebola health crisis in Western Africa will be increased.
Limitations on the Distribution of Funds. During the period of the CR funds would not be distributed for programs that may have high initial rates of operation or for funds which are fully distributed at the beginning of the fiscal year. This is because of the possibility that Congress might eliminate or reduce funding for those particular programs. With regard to distribution of funds during the covered period, the CR states:
This joint resolution shall be implemented so that only the most limited funding action of that permitted in the joint resolution shall be taken in order to provide for continuation of projects and activities.
However, agencies will be allowed to apportion funds in a manner that would avoid furloughing employees. These provisions are common in CRs.
Mandatory Funding Programs. Funding for entitlement and mandatory payments which was provided for FY 2014 as well as activities under the Food and Nutrition Act would be continued at a rate that maintains current program levels. Funding would be available to offset food price increases in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. It would also extend the authorization for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program through the period of the CR.
Increases on Hold/IHS Reprogramming. Because the House CR would fund programs at their FY 2014 pro rata level, it would dash the hopes of Indian program increases, at least during the period of the CR, which had been requested for FY 2015 by the President and/or by the House Appropriations Committee i.e., IHS and BIA contract support costs (CSC), IHS Purchased/Referred Care, BIE tribal schools Tribal Grant Support Costs and BIE school construction.
There is also great concern in Indian Country about the IHS proposed reprogramming of $48 million within its FY 2014 budget to make up for a shortfall of CSC funds. Tribes have advocated for the FY 2015 CR to include an “anomaly” of
$48 million to replenish any program that might have had its FY 2014 funds reduced in order to fully fund CSC, but it does not contain such funds. An anomaly is a funding amount that exceeds the prior year appropriation or makes a policy change.
It remains to be seen whether these tribal requests can be accomplished in the pending CR, as a stand-alone supplemental appropriations bill, or, more likely, in a final FY 2015 appropriations bill.
Senate Action. The Senate is taking a wait and see attitude about the CR, pending House passage. Appropriations Chair Mikulski (D-MD) has indicated she wants to keep the CR free of major changes and controversial matters.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding the pending FY 2015 Continuing Resolution or other appropriations matters.