House Passes CR: DOA in Senate

September 23, 2013

With fiscal deadlines approaching, there is only symbolic movement to address the lingering fiscal challenges, and actions to reach real compromise are becoming a distant memory.

First up is passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund government programs in the new fiscal year beginning October 1. On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a CR that leadership knows has no chance of passage in the Senate. At the urging of conservatives in the party, House Republican leaders included a provision to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a signature accomplishment of the President. The President has vowed to veto the House CR, but it won’t make it to his desk in its current form. The CR would provide $986 billion for government programs, continuing funding at sequestration levels, minus funding for the ACA.

The move increases the chances of a government shutdown, although the House will likely have another opportunity to pass a “clean” CR before the deadline of October 1. The Senate will take up the measure this week and remove the language defunding the ACA, perhaps increasing spending levels as well. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid commented on the House CR that even the Chamber of Commerce opposes it. 

Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski acknowledged that passing a clean CR is only a start, but that providing funding for the government through December 15th will allow time for negotiations on a broader agreement.

Assuming passage of an amended CR in the Senate, the question remains whether the House leadership will be able to rally enough Members to pass the revised measure. Speaker John Boehner will likely have to rely on House Democrats for the CR to pass or face a government shutdown. Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget last week released guidance to federal agencies regarding agency operations if a shutdown were to occur.

Hal Rogers, House Appropriations Chairman, reminded his colleagues on Friday that a government shutdown is a political game in which everyone loses. Let’s hope they heed his advice. 

Next up, on the heels of the CR, will be a debate about how the U.S. can avoid hitting the debt ceiling and defaulting on its obligations.

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