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Spending Bill Keeps Government Open Through March

September 28, 2012—The president Sept. 28 signed a continuing resolution (CR, H.J. Res. 117) to keep the federal government operating through March 27, 2013, by maintaining funding for most federal programs at close to their FY 2012 levels.

Early Sept. 22, senators approved the measure 62-30, before returning to their home states for a pre-election recess [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 21]. The House passed the bill a week earlier.

The legislation realizes an agreement forged in July between House and Senate leaders to complete the spending extension well before FY 2012 expires on Sept. 30, avoiding the risk of a politically unpopular government shutdown so close to the November elections [see Washington Highlights, Aug. 3].

Because the measure complies with the $1.047 trillion FY 2013 discretionary spending cap established in the Budget Control Act (BCA, P.L. 112-25) — which falls slightly higher than the $1.043 trillion level established in FY 2012— the spending bill temporarily increases funding for programs by 0.6 percent over their FY 2012 levels.

Final funding levels, however, may hinge on the make-up of the 113th Congress when it revisits the spending bills in six months. While the Senate has adhered to the BCA cap, House appropriators drafted their spending bills using the $1.028 trillion cap in the budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 112) approved by the GOP majority in March [see Washington Highlights, April 27]. The lower House cap has led to steep cuts for domestic discretionary programs in the House appropriations bills, including programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

CR notwithstanding, federal programs may also face steep reductions effective Jan. 2, 2013, if Congress does not advance legislation to prevent automatic funding cuts required by the BCA through sequestration. Without congressional action, nondefense discretionary programs will lose 8.2 percent of their budgets, calculated using the funding levels provided in the CR [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 28].


Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525


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