Congress Rolling Out Continuing Resolution as Agencies Prepare for Cuts

September 19, 2011

by Paula Skedsvold

On Sept 14, 2011, House appropriators introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will fund government programs from October 1 through November 18, 2011. Passage of the CR is expected in both the House and Senate this week. The CR, HJ Res. 79, will fund the government at a rate of $1.043 trillion, the amount agreed to by the House, Senate, and White House in the debt ceiling agreement or Budget Control Act.  The total amount is 1.4% less than the current FY 2011 level. Extending government funding into the new fiscal year through the CR will give appropriators more time to complete individual spending bills for FY 2012 and also begin to assemble an omnibus spending measure that would contain most of the individual appropriations bills. 

With the Budget Control Act as a backdrop, Senate appropriators are moving forward rapidly on spending bills. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up a spending bill that would fund the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $6.7 billion, a reduction of $162 million or 2.4% below the FY 2011 level. In July, House appropriators agreed to level funding from FY 2011 to FY 2012 for NSF. Specifically, within the House bill, the NSF research account would receive a 0.8% increase, while the Senate bill reduces the research account by almost $121 million. 

For scientists tracking NIH appropriations, the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill (the bill that contains NIH funding), has not been taken up by either the House or Senate. Initial action is expected on the bill this week. 

As the House and Senate continue their work on appropriations for FY 2012, federal agencies have begun to prepare budgets for FY 2013 (which begins on October1, 2012). The President will unveil the budget in February 2012, so agencies are busy developing budgets for submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  According to guidance provided to the agencies by OMB, the overall agency request for 2013 “should be at least 5 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation…. Your 2013 budget submission should also identify additional discretionary funding reductions that would bring your request to a level that is at least 10 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation.”