One of Congress’s major responsibilities is funding the federal government through the appropriations process. When this is not completed at the start of the fiscal year (October 1), it can lead to uncertainty and problems, such as delays on federal grant distribution, hiring freezes, and operational challenges at national parks, to name just a few.
Hours before P.L. 115-56, the continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government for the start of FY18, expired, Congress passed and the president signed a two week stop-gap measure. The CR, which funds the federal government through December 22 at below FY 2017 levels (there was a 0.7 percent across-the-board cut) passed the House (235-193) and Senate (81-14) Thursday evening with some bipartisan support. as well as frustration, with the appropriations work still ahead.
Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) summarized, “This resolution is our best and only option at this time. Congress must do its job and pass a continuing resolution. And then another one into the new year to keep the government open.”
Those who voted against the CR cited dissatisfaction with the December 22 deadline, declaring more time would be needed to resolve and pass the appropriations bills and the need to legislatively address other issues.
Although Congress was set to recess the House has already committed to working the week before Christmas. Significant work needs to take place to pass the 12 appropriations bills (or a combined omnibus spending package) that will fund the government through September 30 2018, so another CR is possible.
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