Last week, you probably read reports stating the House would take up consideration of a 2 month Continuing Resolution (CR) extending federal funding to avert a government shutdown at end of the fiscal year. The CR was slated to run from October 1st until December 15th. The bill as introduced by Appropriations Chairman Hal Rodgers (R-KY) would fund the federal government at $986 billion, just below the current post-sequestration funding level of $988 billion for FY13. However, the House delayed consideration of the bill and no announcements have been made regarding when this bill or another continuing resolution might be taken up.
Press reports and statements from various Members of Congress indicate the delay is related to how the House Majority intends to proceed with a faction of the Republican Caucus who would like the CR to include provisions to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a part of an extension federal funding. The original CR proposal from the House majority did not directly make extension of federal funding contingent upon a repeal or defunding of the ACA. Under the legislation, a second non-binding vote would have been taken on defunding the ACA in the form of a concurrent resolution that would accompany the CR to the Senate, but that the Senate could choose not to consider. This proposal drew criticism from some Members of the Republican Conference, leaving the House Majority looking for enough votes to pass the proposed CR.
Meanwhile, an alternative proposal has been released by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA). His proposal, which has garnered 42 cosponsors, would fund the federal government for FY14 at $967.4 billion, in accordance with the House passed FY14 budget and just above the FY14 post sequestration funding level of $967 billion. The bill would maintain sequestration cuts for non-defense programs and prevent those cuts to defense programs. In addition, the legislation would require a delay of the ACA until 2015 as well as rescind and repeal funding for the ACA.
Due to sequestration, the discretionary funding cap and spending levels under the Budget Control Act (BCA) for FY14 has decreased from $1.058 trillion to $967 billion. Democrats, who are pushing for a full repeal of sequestration in their FY14 budget, are working to secure a full year FY14 CR with the original BCA spending level of $1.058 trillion. The current proposed funding levels proposed by House Republicans in both versions of their CRs do not repeal sequestration, which is a major sticking point for Senate Democrats.
Right now, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the current standoff over the Affordable Care Act will be resolved. Senate Democrats and President Obama have both stated a CR defunding or repealing the ACA are dead on arrival. With only 14 days until the end of the fiscal year, there is not much time left for Congress to come to an agreement on the CR. We will be monitoring the situation and post any updates as soon as we can.