Status Check on the FY2013 CR and FY2014 Budget Resolutions

Status Check on the FY2013 CR and FY2014 Budget Resolutions

As the week draws to a close, here is a status check on where Capitol Hill stands on the FY2013 Continuing Resolution (CR) and FY2014 budget resolutions.

The House passed its version of the CR (H.R. 933) on March 6, but it hit a snag in the Senate yesterday.   The bipartisan sponsors of the Senate version of the bill, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) were optimistic that the Senate would complete action on the bill this week and send it back to the House.   Congress is hoping to clear the new CR by next Friday, March 22, when both chambers are scheduled to begin a two-week Easter break.

The current CR expires on March 27 so something must be enacted before then to avoid a government shutdown. 

The Senate began debate on the CR on Wednesday, a day later than planned after Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) complained they had insufficient time to read it, the bill having been introduced only the night before.  Then came a flurry of over 100 proposed amendments.  After spending most of the day debating the first few, Reid sent the Senate home last night to give Mikulski and Shelby a long weekend to sort through the remaining 99 amendments and determine which would be offered on the floor.  Debate is scheduled to resume on Monday.  Reid said he was disappointed in both Republican and Democratic Senators for offering too many amendments.

House Speaker Boehner reportedly is amenable to the changes made in the Senate version, at least so far.   If that remains true, there is still a chance it could pass by March 22.

The CR would fund the government for the rest of FY2013 — until September 30.  The House-passed and Senate-introduced versions contain mixed news for NASA and NOAA.

Separately, the House and Senate Budget Committees released details of their budget resolutions for FY2014 and beyond this week.  The two are completely different.  The House version, crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), proposes stiff spending cuts to eliminate the deficit in 10 years, the period of time covered by the bill.  It was approved by the House Budget Committee on Wednesday on a party line vote.   The Senate version, developed by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA), proposes a combination of tax increases and spending cuts, repeals the sequester, and does not eliminate the deficit during the 10-year period.  The Senate Budget Committee approved it Thursday, also on a party line vote.

Word came today in The Hill newspaper that a third proposal is in the works in the House.  The conservative House Republican Conference under the leadership of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) reportedly is planning to introduce an alternative to the Ryan proposal that would eliminate the deficit in only four years instead of 10, also through spending cuts alone.  A significant portion of the cuts in both the Ryan and Scalise proposals would come from reforming Medicare.

Both the House and Senate plan to bring their respective budget resolutions to the floor for debate next week.  In theory, each side passes a budget resolution and the two then work together to reach a compromise on a single, final bill.   That has not happened in many years, and is not likely to this year, either, considering the different underlying philosophies at the heart of each proposal.

Meanwhile, President Obama still has not submitted his budget request for FY2014, nor announced when it will be submitted.  The most recent rumor is that April 8 is when DOD’s budget, at least, will be sent to Congress, but the White House has not confirmed it.

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