October: Open Season for FY 2012

October 3, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

The federal fiscal year for 2012 officially began on Saturday, but none of the FY’s appropriations bills have been finalized and signed.  Last week, Congress managed to pass a continuing resolution (H.R. 2017) that keeps the federal government running through tomorrow, by which time it is expected to pass another CR to keep it operational through November 18. While the Senate was on recess last week, the House passed H.R. 2608, which the Senate seems poised to pass by the end of the day tomorrow.

If that happens, Congress will have bought itself a few weeks to square away the spending bills for FY 2012 – weeks that are destined to bring more uncertainty, more vitriol and more drama.  Congress still seems to be debating whether to roll all (or most) of the FY 2012 appropriations bills into a single “omnibus” bill.

The House did release a draft FY 2012 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriation bill last week, which proposes more than $4 billion in cuts relative to the FY 2011 bill.  Under the draft bill:

  • Department of Labor spending would be cut by $2.55 billion;
  • Department of Health and Human Services spending would be cut by $200 million;
  • Department of Education spending would be cut by $2.378 billion; and
  • Related agency spending would be cut by $200 million.

A summary table of the bill with comparisons to FY 2011 and the administration’s FY 2012 budget request appears here. While there’s plenty of pending debate between the House’s bill and what is eventually passed, it’s a stark reminder of the magnitude of the cuts being considered. For example, the Committee for Education Funding noted that under the draft bill, only 6 education programs would see funding increases, while 31 programs would be eliminated altogether and funding for another 9 programs would be cut.

In its Sept. 29 bulletin, the California Institute for Federal Policy Research noted that the CRs considered to date have consistently invoked the $1.043 trillion figure set by the Budget Control Act (i.e., the debt limit law) as the target for FY 2012 federal spending.

While the overall Congress prepares to pass the CR to keep the government running through mid-November and wrestles with how to address FY 2012 appropriation bills, the bipartisan super committee will continue its mandated hunt for trillions in spending cuts for the upcoming decade.  The congressional appointees to the panel have remained relatively tight-lipped about some of their recent closed-door sessions, but by all appearances, tax increases seem to persist as the primary impasse.

What’s your organization doing to deal with the high degree of federal funding uncertainty or to prepare for the likelihood of significant cuts?

(Photo credit: Adrianne Fielding)


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