Budget

Congress approves stopgap spending bill

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The House and the Senate passed a spending bill that keeps the government funded through Dec. 11, and sets up Congress for a spending fight or another short-term fix in a lame duck session after the fall elections have been decided.

The continuing resolution pegs funding for discretionary government programs at the current annual rate of $1.012 trillion. Chairs of the Appropriations committees in the House and the Senate acknowledged that the measure is just a temporary fix, and expressed hopes for a full omnibus spending bill to cover fiscal year 2015. The Senate approved the measure on Sept. 18 by a vote of 78-22; the House passed the bill the day previous, by a vote of 319 to 108.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said the continuing resolution was "the best, most clear path forward -- allowing time to draft bicameral pieces of legislation that reflect our real and urgent budgetary requirements and utilize our nation’s taxpayer dollars in the most responsible way."

President Barack Obama intends to sign the bill, which includes support for training opposition forces in Syria and for the administration's strategy to fight Ebola in Africa.

Like past continuing resolutions, this measure gives the Department of Commerce permission to reprogram acquisitions funding to make sure the planned launches of NOAA's Joint Polar Satellite System and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system keep on schedule. The Department of Homeland Security has similar flexibility to maintain staffing and operations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The continuing resolution does not assert congressional prerogative to block a one percent pay raise for civilian feds and troops announced by Obama in late August, so the increase should take effect on the Jan. 1, 2015.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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