Budget

Here we go again

capitol dome and bills

There are roughly six weeks left in fiscal 2014, and not a single appropriations bill has been signed into law. Congress left promptly for its August recess, and both the House and Senate are scheduled to be gone until Sept. 8, leaving perhaps a dozen legislative business days in which to craft a funding bill for Oct. 1 and beyond.

House Speaker John Boehner said the House will pass a short-term continuing resolution in September, most likely funding the government through the 2014 elections. In the past few years, however, such stopgap measures have almost always come at the 11th hour or beyond, which means September could see yet another round of "just in case" planning for agency shutdowns.

It wasn't supposed to be this way, of course. Last December, when Congress finally got around to funding the current fiscal year, legislators also set spending levels for fiscal 2015. The idea was to get a jump on next year's appropriations and give agency leaders some long-denied budget clarity so that real plans could be made.

Instead, we're back into a familiar routine. In the final days of September (or perhaps the early hours of October), a spending bill will be signed into law -- unless, of course, some other political showdown jams up the process and prompts a shutdown. The bill that passes might or might not adjust the previously established funding levels, but it will almost certainly last only into December so that this Congress can tackle tough spending questions after Election Day.

And that lame-duck session might well fund the government for only a few months more and kick the fiscal can to newly elected legislators in the 114th Congress.

That's no way to run a government, but it is the new normal. So good luck with that IT and budget planning!

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.


Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.