Congress’ Must-Do in the Lame Duck
Congress returned to work today for the first time since the elections. For some, it will be a victorious return. For others, it will be the start of their last two months in office. Either way, they have a lot to do before the end of the year, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Congress previously approved a temporary spending bill (a “continuing resolution,” or CR) to fund the government through December 11. To avoid a government shutdown, Congress must pass an appropriations bill during this lame duck session. This is their “Must-Do.”
They’ve started bipartisan work on a bill that will that will cover the rest of the current fiscal year and incorporate all 12 of the spending bills they were supposed to pass (but didn’t), also known as an omnibus. But there are some in Congress who only want to pass another CR to cover funding for another few months and let the new Congress deal with it next year. This will leave federal agencies in a holding pattern, unsure of how much they have to work with for the year, making it extremely difficult for them to effectively address service needs.
That’s why, just moments ago, CHN sent a letter urging Congress to pass a full-year funding bill that responds to current needs, addressing inadequate funding in many human needs programs and providing for emergency spending to meet unanticipated and urgent needs related to Ebola and child migrants fleeing violence in Central America. This is their “Should-Do.”
Joining us in sending this letter are over 160 national organizations who feel just as strongly about this as we do. They include faith groups, a wide range of service providers, labor, expert policy groups, and other important advocates. We’re glad to see such a big response from the nonprofit community on this because so much is at stake. Making program-by-program decisions about funding can help to curb the cuts to human needs programs that have been going on for years. And only by designating the resources needed to deal with emergencies as emergency funding can we be sure other programs won’t be cut further to meet the new needs.
By taking the “should-do” path rather than simply the “must-do” route, Congress has the potential to actually turn the lame duck session into something fruitful for those in need. Let’s do what we can to make sure they choose the right road.