Congress has approved a Continuing Resolution (CR), H. J. Res. 124, which will 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. We reported on the introduction of the CR in our General Memorandum 14-073 of September 12, 2014.
The CR was approved on September 17 by the House of Representatives by a vote of 319 to 108 and by the Senate on September 18 by a vote of 78 to 22. A separate vote in the House on an amendment to authorize training and arming of the Syrian rebels to fight the “Islamic State” terrorist group (ISIL) was approved by a vote of 273 to 156. The Syria vote did not break down by party line. The Senate then voted on the CR as approved by the House with the Syria amendment. The President will sign the CR.
Funding Level/Limitations on the Distribution of Funds. As noted above funding for most programs during period of the CR will be at FY 2014 levels and conditions. The CR funds will 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 in a final appropriations bill. 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 will be continued at a rate that maintains current program levels. Funding will be available to offset food price increases in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. It also extends the authorization for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program through the period of the CR.
Anomalies. Anomalies, provisions that differ from those in FY 2014, are relatively few but include the extension of Import Export Bank charter through June 30, 2015 (Democrats wanted a five-year extension; some Republicans wanted to let it expire); $88 million to help address the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa; and the reauthorization of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (a law which prevents states and local governments from taxing internet access) through the period of the CR.
What’s Next. The House and Senate are now on recess until after the November elections. The House has indicated it will reconvene on November 12 and we would expect the Senate to reconvene at about the same time. The primary business during the lame duck session will be FY 2015 appropriations and a debate over military operations in the Middle East. While House and Senate Appropriations Chairs have said they want an omnibus appropriations bill which reflects their Committees work on FY 2015 funding levels, it remains to be seen whether that will happen or whether Congress will enact another CR with flat funding levels. Among the many things at stake are hoped-for increases in the IHS and Indian Affairs budgets which have been recommended by the Administration and/or the House Interior Appropriations Committee (full funding for Contract Support Costs; IHS Purchased/Referred Care; replenishment of the FY 2014 IHS Services Account reprogrammed monies; BIE tribal schools Tribal Grant Support Costs; BIE school construction.)
Because the CR funds programs on a pro rata basis at FY 2014 levels, we list for your convenience our General Memoranda (GM) on selected federal agencies’ final FY 2014 appropriations:
Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies GM 14-009 of January 27, 2014
Non-Indian Affairs Interior GM 14-010 of January 27, 2014
Justice Department GM 14-012 of January 31, 2014
Agriculture Department GM 14-015 of February 10, 2014
Indian Health Service GM 14-017 of February 21, 2014
Indian Affairs (BIA/BIE) GM 14-021 of March 10, 2014
Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding the
FY 2015 Continuing Resolution or other appropriations matters.