House & Senate leaders have agreed to a Continuing Resolution appropriation funding the government into fiscal year 2013 for six months at the $1.047 trillion topline amount agreed a year ago August in the Budget Control Act. The measure still needs a GAO budget score and floor passage by both chambers in September. A Continuing Resolution or “stop gap” funding measure will keep federally funded programs operational until March of next year (2013). The legislation also delays spending debates through the November election, passed the lame duck session of Congress, and well into the 113th session of Congress beginning January of 2013.
The last time Congress adopted a six month CR was directly following President Obama’s mid-term election culminating in H.R. 1473 the yearlong Continuing Resolution for fiscal year 2011. The CR is a common legislative procedure used to “continue” the appropriation cycle without adopting each of the 12 sub-committee reports individually or as a whole in an omnibus appropriations act. Below are a few commonly accepted terms of the CR process:
Continuing Resolutions fund federal agencies and programs when one or more of the twelve general bills are not enacted by September 30th the beginning of the federal fiscal year.
a. Traditionally, continuing resolutions were intended for short-term situations, but in some cases agencies have been funded for an entire fiscal year using this method.
b. The continuing resolution expires either at a specified date or upon the enactment of a regular appropriation bill. In this case the CR expires March 2013.
c. The trend is away from “continuing” spending at last year’s level to setting dollar amounts for each account just as in the regular appropriation bills. These “continuing” amounts are negotiated within the CR.
d. Report language is allowed in the House version of continuing resolutions.
e. The fact that CR’s are done at the last minute and contain so many provisions, force Congress and the President into up-or-down approval without full deliberations.
Provisions and language included in each of the individual passed bills as well as topline spending levels agreed to in those bills are not necessarily included in the Continuing Resolution process. It is possible, however, to make recommendations and include provisions in the final joint explanatory statement of a Continuing Resolution originating in the House. Many of these provisions and topline spending levels are recognized through H.R. 1473 the final FY11 spending agreement.