Fiscal year 2011: Heading for CR #7
In mid-March, Congress passed and the President signed H.J.Res. 48 to extend funding for federal agencies through April 8. H.J.Res. 48, the sixth continuing resolution (CR) for the current fiscal year, includes cuts of $6 billion from the FY 2010 level through program terminations/reductions and the elimination of earmarks. Those cuts did not impact scientific research funding.
House and Senate leaders and appropriators have been negotiating what step to take next. No one likes the short, three-week bills, but reaching agreement on small cuts for short durations has proven easier than getting support for the spending vision of the House leadership. Their vision, expressed in H.R. 1 which passed the House but failed in the Senate: over $61 billion in spending cuts, including significant cuts in research funding, plus defunding of programs that implement the health care reform legislation of last year.
House Republicans are reaching out to moderate House Democrats in hopes of building support for a bill that would provide funding for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year, which would include enough spending cuts and ‘riders’ to maintain the support of the most conservative members of the Republican Caucus. The current proposal includes between $30 and $36 billion in cuts, but because the bill hasn’t been released, it isn’t clear where the cuts would fall.
If Congress does not approve a spending bill by April 8, a shutdown of the federal government might result. On April 1 the House will consider a bill called “The Government Shutdown Prevention Act. “ The symbolic bill would make H.R. 1 law if the Senate fails to pass a measure before April 6 to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. We are pretty sure this isn’t an April Fools’ joke. Keep in mind the Act can only become law if the Senate also approves it and the President signs it, neither of which seems likely. Nevertheless, the bill helps Republicans place blame for a government shutdown on Democrats if one is to occur.
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