Lights out on Oct. 1?

Funding bills are still "in play" between House and Senate.

Today, Sept. 30, 2013, is the last day of fiscal year 2013. As most readers of the APA Federal Budget Blog know, a new funding bill must be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president no later than midnight to prevent the government from shutting down for lack of funds.

A few moments ago the Senate rejected a House-passed bill that would have funded the government through Nov. 15, delayed implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year and repealed the Affordable Care Act's tax on medical devices. The ball is back in the court of the House of Representatives. Congressional Quarterly is reporting that the House will next send to the Senate a stopgap spending measure, plus a provision to delay for a year the Affordable Care Act's mandate that individuals buy health insurance, end federal contributions to members of Congress and their staff members' insurance, and add a requirement that executive branch political officials purchase health insurance in the exchanges set up by the law. These changes to the Affordable Care Act have been rejected by Democrats before, and there is no indication the Senate will welcome this latest package.

It appears the House leadership is hoping to extend its brinkmanship into the evening. The Democrats in the Senate seem united in refusal to accept any bill but a "clean" continuing resolution (just funding, no other legislation) so if the House pursues its quixotic quest to defund or defenestrate the Affordable Care Act, Oct. 1 will be an unpaid holiday for many, many federal workers.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) sent an update today about how research funding agencies will manage a shutdown.

The White House Office of Management and Budget has collected most current agency contingency plans, and direct links to a few key R&D agency plans are below, courtesy of AAAS:

  • Department of Health and Human Services (NIH, CDC and others) : 73 percent of NIH staff would be furloughed. Some of those that remain would continue providing inpatient and outpatient care for current patients of the NIH Clinical Center, though no new patients would be accepted. NIH staff would also maintain their animal stock, research infrastructure and data. Most FDA monitoring programs and CDC outbreak programs, including its seasonal influenza work, would cease.
  • National Science Foundation : Virtually all staff is to be furloughed, with those remaining responsible for the protection of life and property. NSF will be sending notices to awardees informing them that payments won't be made during the disruption, but that research that doesn't require federal employee intervention may proceed.
  • NASA : As mentioned above, ISS support and operational satellite missions will continue, but prelaunch development activities will mostly halt. As with other agencies, no new contracts or grants will be issued, and apparently citizens will not have "access to the NASA website."
  • USDA Research, Education and Economics : Just about all staff at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service would be furloughed, though the Agricultural Research Service would retain several hundred staff to safeguard research animal populations, IT infrastructure and other assets.