Congress

Short-term stopgap could be needed to keep government open

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A continuing resolution could be needed to keep the federal government operational past the Jan. 15 deadline while appropriators work out the last kinks in an omnibus spending bill to fund agencies for the remainder of fiscal 2014.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that funds the departments of Justice and Commerce, NASA and the National Science Foundation, said a continuing resolution of a few days would probably be needed to give lawmakers more time to move a larger appropriations package through the House and Senate. He made his comments at a Jan. 10 breakfast event sponsored by the Northern Virginia Technology Council that also included Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters on Jan. 9 that a stopgap measure might be necessary. "To put together a bill of this magnitude and size in a month, with the holidays intervening, has been a real, real drag on staff," he said.

Although about six of the 12 appropriations bills are finished and two more are nearing completion, there are sticking points related to the funding of the 2010 health care law and policy riders of interest to particular members.

Despite the delay, Wolf and Warner said a government shutdown next week is next to impossible. Nevertheless, Warner said the two-year budget deal put together by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Budget Committee leaders in the House and Senate, is not likely to be repeated.

"The Ryan-Murray deal was the last of the small deals," Warner said. "You cannot do another deal without each side having to touch their sacred cows. And once you touch entitlements, once you touch revenues, you might as well do it in a major way because you're going to make folks mad."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

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