CHN: New Federal Fiscal Year Begins – At FY 2009 Funding Levels

On September 30, the eve of the new federal fiscal year, the Senate passed 62-38 a continuing resolution (CR) to keep annually appropriated programs running at FY 2009 levels through October 31, providing more time for Congress to complete work on the individual appropriations bills.  The House passed the CR on September 25 by a vote of 217-190.  (See Human Needs Report for September 23 at:  The one-month stopgap measure was attached to the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill conference report preventing the CR from being amended (final versions of spending bills cannot be amended).  Ironically, the Legislative Branch bill, the first of 12 FY 2010 appropriations bills to be completed, funds the salaries for Members of Congress and House and Senate operations.
Exceptions were made in the CR to begin funding several programs at the FY 2010 level, even though their agency’s bill has not yet passed.  The Census Bureau which is working on the decennial census will receive $7.1 billion in FY 2010, an increase of $3.9 billion over FY 2009 funding.  The Veterans Administration received an increase of $3.85 billion for a total of $44.3 in FY 2010.  To avert bankruptcy by the Postal System, the CR also includes a one-year provision that lowers its payment to the retiree health benefits trust fund from $5.4 billion to $1.4 billion.

If, as expected, Congress completes a significant number, but not all, of the 12 appropriations bills by October 31 when the CR expires, it will need to pass another CR to continue funding the discretionary programs included in the unfinished bills.

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