CHN: Congress Approves Stop-Gap Measure to Keep Government Running

With most appropriations bills not yet signed into law, Congress moved quickly to approve a bill that will keep the government running beyond the end of the 2005 fiscal year. Fiscal year 2006 begins October 1. The House approved H.J. Res. 68 Thursday, September 29, by 348-65 to fund discretionary programs through November 18, and the Senate approved the bill the next day.
The measure gives Congress several weeks to complete its appropriation bills, only two of which have been signed into law so far (the Interior-Environment and Legislative Branch appropriations). The House has already passed its 11 appropriations bills, while the Senate has passed 8 out of its twelve. With the House adjourned, the Senate had to pass the bill in order to avoid a partial government shutdown.

The continuing resolution (CR) funds each program by the lowest of either the FY 2005 spending level or the levels passed by the House or Senate for FY 2006. This would in fact result in a cut for some programs. The House frequently includes cuts in its appropriations bills that are rejected by the Senate, but the structure of this CR means that those cuts will be in effect at least until November 18, when the CR is no longer in effect.

For example, the House made cuts in the Science-State-Justice-Commerce spending bill it passed on June 16 (H.R. 2862) which provides $299 million for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs in fiscal year 2006, a $47.5 million reduction from last year’s level ($346.5 million). The House Labor-HHS-Education spending bill (H.R. 3010) passed on July 24 slashes adult training by $30.8 million (-3.4 percent, not adjusted for inflation), youth training by $36.2 million (- 3.6 percent), and dislocated worker assistance by $70.8 million (- 4.7 percent). Funding for Job Corps, which has enjoyed bipartisan support, is cut by $9.8 million, and the bill also eliminates emergency funding for LIHEAP, trimming total LIHEAP by $175.6 million, while.

The House Labor-HHS-Education appropriation bill also reduces the Community Services Block Grant to $320 million, nearly cutting the program in half. That would mean that from now until November 18, the CR would cut in half funding for the Community Services Block Grant. Senator Harkin (D-IA) proposed an amendment that would restore this funding in the CR, but this was defeated 39-53 with some saying adopting such a measure would result in a shutdown because the House adjourned after passing its version of the bill. This amendment was added to the defense appropriation bill in the Senate, which could pass next week.

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