American Society of Hematology

Congress Looks to Avert Government Shutdown, Seeks to Pass FY 2014 Funding Resolution

Published on: September 19, 2013

With the regular budget process stalled and the new fiscal year set to begin on October 1, Congress has two options: pass a temporary continuing resolution that extends federal agency and program funding from the prior year or shut down the government until it can come to an agreement on spending. House leaders are currently struggling to come up with a plan to avert a government shutdown after they were forced to delay a vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) in the face of a revolt by some members intent on using the measure to “defund” the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Senate will not vote on a CR until after it is passed by the House.

On September 10, House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) released a CR to fund and keep the federal government, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), running through December 15 at a level slightly below the current, post-sequestration level of $988 billion in FY 2013. The House was originally scheduled to consider the CR on September 12; however, the Republican leadership was forced to delay consideration because they did not have sufficient votes for passage.

Conservative House Republicans want to leverage the need for a CR to further reduce federal spending and eliminate funding for the ACA. They rejected a plan drafted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to link a resolution withholding funds for the ACA to the CR. If the House passed the health care resolution, the Senate would have to vote on it before voting on the CR. However, the Senate could reject the health care funding resolution and still pass the CR, as was done in 2011.

The House may attempt to consider an alternative CR later this week that intertwines the government funding extension with language to defund the ACA, a measure that will not be able to get enough votes to pass the Senate and the President has indicated he will not sign. Ultimately, this leaves very little time before the end of the fiscal year for Congress to reach a compromise on a short-term spending plan and avoid a government shutdown.


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