Congress Approves New Stopgap Budget Measure for Federal Government
On Thursday, the Senate voted 87-13 to pass the new stopgap continuing resolution budget bill (H J Res 48), which will keep the federal government funded through April 8, Roll Call reports.
The measure replaces the two-week stopgap CR that expires today (Dennis, Roll Call, 3/17).
The new stopgap CR -- approved by the House on Tuesday -- will cut current discretionary spending levels by an additional $6 billion -- or $2 billion weekly, in accordance with Republicans' insistence that all stopgap bills reduce discretionary spending to 2008 levels. Like the expiring stopgap CR, the new package will not block funds for the implementation of the federal health reform law.
However, it will cut billions of dollars in spending by reducing or eliminating 25 federal programs, including some secondary health care initiatives, and billions more by eliminating earmarks that also are outlined in President Obama'sÂ fiscal yearÂ 2012 budget proposal. It also will cut:
- $276 million in pandemic influenza funding; and
- $75 million from State Health Access Grants, a program that provides 13 states with funding to help them expand health coverage to uninsured individuals (California Healthline, 3/16).
The new stopgap CR -- which Obama is expected to sign on Friday -- will give lawmakers three more weeks to negotiate an agreement on a broader spending bill for the rest of fiscal year 2011, which ends on Sept. 30, the Washington Post reports.
Lawmakers Divided on Prospects of Future CRs
Some lawmakers on Thursday insisted that the new stopgap measure would be the last. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, "Patience is wearing thin on both sides with these stopgaps," adding, "All signs point to this being the last one. Three weeks should be enough to negotiate a final deal." Schumer also challenged the House GOP to develop a new proposal that would secure greater Democratic support.
Although House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) agreed with Schumer that Congress "cannot continue to fund the government with a series of band-aids," he added, "I again implore the president and Senate Democrats to give us an offer" (Fahrenthold/Sonmez, Washington Post, 3/17).
Much of the disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on a longer-term CR lies with the GOP's top policy priorities and spending-reduction proposals that were included in the House-passed FY 2011 CR spending bill (HR 1), such as defunding the health reform law and blocking federal funding for Planned Parenthood (California Healthline, 3/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.