Legislative Update: Appropriations, Fiscal Commission

Congress Passes Two Week Continuing Resolution

With the current continuing resolution (CR) set to expire today, both chambers of Congress this week passed a CR to fund the government until December 18. This will buy Congress more time to decide how to deal with FY11 appropriations – through an omnibus appropriations bill, or through a longer term CR. Democratic Appropriation Committee leaders would prefer to pass an omnibus appropriations bill because the funding totals will be higher than a CR and because the bill would include Congressional earmarks. But regardless of the whether programs are funded though a long term CR or an omnibus appropriations bill, funding will be at a substantially lower level than what the President proposed in his budget request.

Fiscal Commission Releases Report

Earlier this week, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which was formed to address our nation’s fiscal challenges, released its report, Moment of Truth. The report proposes deep cuts in discretionary spending that would “[h]old spending in 2012 equal to or lower than spending in 2011, and return spending to pre-crisis 2008 levels in real terms in 2013. Limit future spending growth to half the projected inflation rate through 2020.” This would cut a total of almost $2 trillion below Obama’s proposed FY 11 budget over nine years (FY 12-20). But there was support for education in the report: “At the same time, we must invest in education, infrastructure, and high-value research and development to help our economy grow, keep us globally competitive, and make it easier for businesses to create jobs.”

However, at a vote scheduled for this morning on whether to officially adopt the report, the Commission adjourned without taking a vote because they did not have the 14 votes necessary. On Thursday it was reported that only 11 of the 18 members of Commission supported the proposals in the report.

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