Six-month funding bill moving through congress

Meanwhile the OMB will soon report on how the sequester cuts, if they should happen, will be distributed.

A bill to fund the government from October 2012 through March 2013 was introduced this week. This Continuing Resolution (CR) adheres to spending levels in the Budget Control Act, passed last year. Since both houses of Congress had already agreed to those funding levels, there were fewer areas of disagreement to manage — that’s why congressional leaders were able to reach agreement without the drama we have seen surrounding other funding issues. Most funding in the CR is held to 2012 levels, so spending is effectively frozen. Under continuing resolutions, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) prescribes how agencies apportion their funding for the duration of the legislation. This usually means no new program starts and minimal spending, with agencies even more cautious because of the possibility of sequestration.

The bill will reach a vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday, Sept. 13. The Senate takes it up next, possibly as soon as Sept. 14. The president has agreed to sign it. This CR may be the last bill Congress considers before the election recess.

Meanwhile if you’ve been wondering what federal budgets would look like if the sequester should happen on Jan. 2, you aren’t alone. Congress passed a bill in July, the Sequestration Transparency Act, requiring the administration to report in detail how budgets would be affected if the large cuts cannot be superseded. That report will be issued by the OMB by Sept. 14. There is hope that the sight of these cold hard numbers will inspire Congress to work together on the grand bargain that will avoid the blunt axe of across-the-board cuts.