September Legislative Update

Well it’s ‘Ground Hog Day” all over again. A government shutdown at the end of this week, (Sept. 30) is likely averted with Senate passage of a Continuing Resolution (CR) that the House is expected to pass soon. The deal will do little to end the partisan fighting over fiscal 2012 spending, however.

The Senate bill is considered a “clean” CR that will fund the government through Oct. 4 and will require the full House  to vote again next week in another vote to extend funding through Nov. 18. The second vote is required because the House technically is not in session this week and will need to debate the measure before a full vote can be taken. The House will clear the new bill on Thursday , Sept. 29 by a voice vote in a pro forma session. (Pro forma means at least a member from each party is in the chamber voting by voice vote on a measure without any objections.) The temporary CR has been attached to the already House-passed Homeland appropriations measure and will be amended into the passed bill.

I call it “Ground Hog Day” because Congress keeps coming  to the  edge of the abyss of shutting the government down time and time again. “Each time this happens, it sort of chips away at the public’s confidence that Congress can do even their most basic duty, which under the Constitution is to keep the government running” said Donald Wolfensberger, director of the Congress Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The CR is expected to fund the government for six weeks and as amended and appropriators are expected to use the next six weeks to assemble a year-end omnibus spending bill, but with partisan divisions forcing lawmakers to spend nearly two weeks on the short-term deal, it seems far from certain that an agreement can be reached by Nov. 18 on a broader spending bill.

The newly minted deficit panel , aka “The Super Committee”, met the week in a closed door discussion covering a “broad array of tax reform issues,” according to some members. Co-chairwoman Patty Murry, D-Wash., said the 12 members “had a really productive discussion” and “are looking forward to continuing to work.” Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and House Budget ranking Democrat Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland both said the group discussed tax overhaul. Van Hollen said the goal continues to be “to meet our responsibilities” for $1.2 trillion in savings, while noting many members would like to go beyond that mark.

These debates about spending limits and tax overhaul are dominating the discussions on the Hill and specific funding  decisions about programs like ours are not going to be settled until these debates are resolved. As soon as we have more or new information about WAP and CSBG appropriations we will get the information out to the network.

Source information: CQ Budget Tracker and The Washington Examiner