Congress Passes Short-term Spending Bill

By Gina Luke, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division

As the 112th Congress winds down, there is a long list of unfinished legislative business to complete before adjournment.  With so little time left and so much work to be done, it is a certainty that nearly everything will be pushed into the Lame Duck Session following the November 2012 elections or into the 113th Congress which will be seated in the new year.

Just one piece of legislative business had to be completed before September 30 – the passage of a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to extend federal spending beyond the end of the fiscal year.  Shortly before leaving Washington for a five-week summer recess, House and Senate leaders announced that they had brokered a deal to keep the federal government in operation through March 27, 2013.

When lawmakers returned to Washington D.C. on September 10, with just eight work days scheduled before they adjourn for campaigning, it was widely expected their focus would be on pushing the CR across the finish line.  Little else would be tackled despite AVMA and many others urging Congress to pass the Farm Bill as well.

House leaders immediately unveiled a CR which provides funding authority to allow all government agencies and programs to continue operating at an annual rate of $1.047 trillion in discretionary spending for regular appropriations, the level set by last year's Budget Control Act.  The CR was negotiated by House and Senate leaders with the White House. It is intended to preclude a partisan fight over spending before the election and avoid any possible government shutdown.

The CR increases current funding for most federal programs and agencies by 0.6%.  In addition to the CR’s regular appropriations, it provides for almost $100 billion for war funding and associated activities and $6.4 billion in advance disaster relief funding.  Any new programs that have been authorized will go unfunded, while spending cuts that have been agreed to will not go into effect.

The measure was passed by the House of Representatives, under a closed rule that prohibits amendments, by a vote of 329-91 on September 13 while the Senate passed it on September 22 by a vote of 62-30.  The President will sign the bill into law before September 30. 

For more information please contact Gina Luke, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division.

 The AVMA Advocate - News Bites - September 2012