With FY 2014 wrapped up, Congress looks ahead to 2015

Only one "deadline of doom" left: debt ceiling.

Welcome to February! We promised you additional details about research funding in the fiscal year 2014 legislation that Congress adopted and the president signed last month. The Consortium of Social Science Associations has put together a really useful summary (PDF, 818KB) of how research agencies fared in the omnibus legislation. Check it out!

Congressional appropriators were successful in wrapping all 12 funding bills into one piece of legislation and getting that bill to the floor in just a few weeks. Given that the budget bill that Congress passed in December includes top line funding for FY 2015, will appropriators be able to do it again? Many observers think it's unlikely to work so neatly this year. The time pressure made it impossible for the FY 2014 bills to be considered separately. Without that pressure, the bills will come to the floor separately with more opportunities for advocates and members of Congress to exert influence. The last time all 12 bills moved through the House and Senate independently was in 1994. We can expect some of the less controversial bills to move through both chambers, but odds are, remaining bills will be rolled into a big package and adopted as deadlines loom.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), no additional sequester cuts will be necessary this year, following the passage of the omnibus bill. The CBO says that the government even has a little extra room in the disaster relief fund: $6.5 billion. Observers suggest it is unlikely that there will be another sequester until FY 2016, as long as appropriators are able to stick to the spending cap targets for FY 2015. Work on the 2015 bills is beginning now. The president's proposed FY 2015 budget won't be released until early March because the FY 2014 funding was only resolved a couple of weeks ago, but Congress won't wait around for it.

And don't look now, but the debt limit extension that Congress agreed to in the deal that ended the federal government shutdown expires on Feb. 7. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said that the so-called extraordinary measures the department uses to postpone the need for new borrowing will run out by the end of February. So — Congress will need to act this month to address this issue. We'll keep you updated.