Continuing Resolutions: A Continuing Tradition

Posted on August 8, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

In less than two months, we can say goodbye to fiscal year 2012 and hello to a new fiscal year and a brand new budget. Wait, not really.

It’s been decades since the U.S. started a fiscal year with a new budget in place. This year, like all others in recent memory, the government will continue to function by way of a continuing resolution (CR), which simply extends federal spending authority at current levels.

Before Congress left for recess there was some progress, as the Senate Appropriations Committee passed spending bills for the Pentagon and the legislative branch. Still, the budget process has been mired in dysfunction as always.

There are 12 major appropriations bills that are, theoretically at least, supposed to be approved by Oct. 1. They are the bills for Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; Defense; Energy and Water; Financial Services; Homeland Security; Interior and the Environment; Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

The National Journal put out a telling chart last week, which showed that while the Republican-controlled House has been busy, the Senate has not passed a single appropriations bill. Despite the House’s ambitious work, those seven bills are not much closer to final passage since none of them have fans among the Democrats that control the Senate.

And unless the Senate acts to accept the House bills before the end of the year, which is highly unlikely in advance of the election as well during a lame duck session, all of the House’s work will be wiped out as the Congress kicks the can down the road through a CR.

Last week, House and Senate leaders gave their colleagues a little present as they headed for the doors and their home districts, the conventions and the campaign trail – an agreement to consider a 6-month continuing resolution in September to keep the federal government operating well past the election and the inauguration.

It may not seem like a big deal to just keep the government running as is for half a year, but remember, those spending priorities were set in 2011 and things have changed. For industries that rely on the federal government for contracts, it adds a needless tone of uncertainty.

For those of us who have been around Capitol Hill, CR’s have become a fall tradition like turning leaves and back-to-school. One of these years, we ought to take a look at ending it.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at

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