House and Senate Leaders Crafting Short-Term CRs

House and Senate Leaders Crafting Short-Term CRs

Amid rampant rhetoric about a possible government shutdown replete with each side blaming the other, House and Senate leaders reportedly are crafting competing short-term Continuing Resolutions (CRs) that could avoid that situation while they negotiate on a CR for the rest for FY2011. FY2011 began on October 1, but Congress has not passed any of the 12 regular appropriations bills to fund government departments and agencies. Instead it has passed a series of CRs that keep the government operating at last year’s (FY2010’s) level. The current CR expires on March 4.

As House and Senate members spend this week in their districts and states judging the mood of the voters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is said to be developing a one-month CR to keep the government funded at current (FY2010) levels while Congress decides what it wants to do for the rest of FY2011. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), meanwhile, is working on one that would last only two weeks and would contain funding reductions from the FY2010 level.

How the chickens are counted is key to how much Republicans and Democrats are proposing to cut. Top Senate Democrats assert that keeping spending at FY2010 levels is a $41 billion cut. That is in comparison to what President Obama requested for FY2011. Tea Party Republicans in the House want a $100 billion cut, but that is measured against the FY2010 funding level not the FY2011 request, a much deeper reduction. The “full-year” CR passed by the House last week covering the rest of FY2011 would cut $100 billion compared to the FY2011 request or about $60 billion compared to the FY2010 level.

In a statement today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) cited an analysis by Goldman Sachs of the House-passed CR as proving that it would cause a “double-dip recession.” Press reports say that Schumer and Reid indicated that they are willing to cut more than the $41 billion represented by keeping funding at current levels, but not as much as the House. Boehner also is drafting a short-term CR, but it would be for only two weeks and would include cuts to the current spending level. A Reid aide called it a “two-week version of the same reckless measure” already passed by the House. Thus, even the short-term CRs will be quite different, so a shutdown remains a possibility.

For more on what happens if the government shuts down for lack of appropriations, see this report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). According to that report, most government employees are furloughed during a shutdown and placed in a non-pay status, although in the 1995-1996 shutdowns they were paid retroactively. Some government employees are not subject to the furlough and must continue to work in non-pay status. CRS identifies them as Members of Congress, the President, presidential appointees, certain legislative branch employees, and federal employees who are “excepted.” Excepted federal employees include those “(1) performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, (2) involved in the orderly suspension of agency operations, or (3) performing other functions exempted from the furlough,” according to CRS. Some of the examples listed in the report are employees who provide for the national security, provide for benefit payments, or conduct essential activities such as — medical care of inpatients and emergency outpatient care, continuance of air traffic control, care of prisoners, law enforcement, emergency and disaster assistance, and activities to preserve the financial system, power production, and protection of research property.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.