September 14, 2017
Congress Passes Continuing Resolution to Avoid Government Shutdown
By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC
Congress has passed, and the president has signed, a continuing resolution (CR) that will continue to fund the federal government through December 8, avoiding a government shutdown. The legislation also includes $15.3 billion in emergency disaster funding as an initial installment of aid for Texas to respond to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey; suspends the statutory debt limit also through December 8, primarily to allow the federal government to borrow money for emergency disaster relief from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma; and extends the National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire on September 30. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support with a Senate vote of 80–17 and a House vote of 316–90.
The CR will fund federal agencies and programs at essentially fiscal year (FY) 2017 funding levels. However, the CR requires a 0.7% across-the-board cut for all federal agencies and programs as a result of overall spending caps set by law, known as sequestration. This may mean that federal agencies could reduce some research grant funding amounts for the length of the CR. The resolution makes clear that federal agencies cannot start new programs or projects but also cannot terminate or withhold funds for any programs or projects previously funded and supported by Congress.
To prepare for negotiations on the remainder of FY 2018, both the House and Senate continue to work on FY 2018 appropriations bills. The House is expected to complete work on an omnibus bill that includes all 12 appropriations bills by the end of the week of September 15. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee expects to complete the remaining four appropriations bills by the end of September. A budget agreement that raises the overall FY 2018 spending caps is still needed to complete an omnibus bill. Without such an agreement, the only other alternative is a full-year CR with $5 billion in across-the-board cuts applied to federal agencies and programs as a result of sequestration.
The White House press release announcing the signing of the bill is available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/09/08/president-donald-j-trump-signs-hr-601-law.
Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, a leading Washington, D.C.-based government relations and consulting firm, represents the public policy interests of scientific societies and institutions of higher education. Lewis-Burke's staff of government relations professionals works to promote the federal research and policy goals of HFES and the HF/E community.