CR We Go Again?

September 19, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

Baseball, football, soccer, back to school … and high season for funding-related policy debates in the nation’s capital.  With all of the debate and drama this summer around whether (and under what conditions) the federal government’s debt ceiling should be raised, the fiscal year 2012 spending bills were basically left on the sidelines.  But now that the debt agreement has been sealed and the next steps are rolling on that, it’s almost as if Washington’s decisionmakers have finally had a chance to glance at the calendar again.  The federal fiscal year ends on September 30 – mere days from now – and none of the twelve appropriations bills for FY 2012 have made it all the way through Congress.  Zero. I can practically hear the collective “OH CRAP” coming from down the street.

All aboard the omnibus.

Congress is expected to vote this week on a continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the federal government operating through Nov. 18, by which time the House and the Senate will try to drag themselves far enough onto the same page to pass an omnibus bill that rolls all of the FY 2012 spending bills into a single bill.  Last week, Politico noted that some legislators who have criticized the use of omnibus bills in the past have found themselves spinning to reframe it as the implementation of the early August debt agreement and its spending caps.

With the clock ticking increasingly louder to get the FY 2012 spending squared away – or to buy Congress a little more time to square it away – the super committee must also continue to charge forward with its own assignment.

The debt ceiling deal that was signed by President Obama on Aug. 2, formally known as the Budget Control Act, created the Joint Select Bipartisan Deficit Committee on Deficit Reduction.  Colloquially known as the “super committee,” it has to meet an aggressive timeline for identifying trillions in spending cuts by Thanksgiving that can be passed by both chambers of Congress to prevent widespread cuts from hitting both discretionary and defense programs on Jan. 2.

This morning, the president asked them to find an additional $3 trillion to pay for his recently proposed jobs bill and take a chunk out of the federal deficit. While House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) continues to insist that tax increases should not be part of the super committee’s calculus, the president has asked the committee to consider targeted increases, primarily from corporations and wealthy individuals.


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