House Democrats Introduce Stopgap Spending Measure
Congressional Democrats on Tuesday introduced a stopgap spending bill (HJ Res 52) that would fund at current levels the budgets of Cabinet departments and government agencies until Nov. 16, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, and none of the 12 annual appropriations bills has been signed into law (Taylor, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/25).
The House, which is expected to approve the measure on Wednesday, has passed all 12 spending bills, while the Senate, which also must vote on the continuing resolution this week, has approved four. There have been no conference committees.
According to CQ Today, the CR will "give Democrats an opportunity to strategize over how to address veto threats on spending bills that exceed President Bush's budget request." Democrats have proposed spending $23 billion more than the $933 billion Bush requested for FY 2008 (Clarke, CQ Today, 9/25).
The CR also would extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program temporarily as Congress and Bush continue to debate reauthorization and expansion of the program. The House on Tuesday approved SCHIP compromise legislation, but Bush has vowed to veto the measure (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/25).
In addition, the CR includes provisions for an additional $5.2 billion for additional military resources in Iraq and Afghanistan and would continue military funding at current levels (CQ Today, 9/25). The measure also would extend authority for the Department of Veterans Affairs medical care fee collections, the food stamp program and other programs set to expire at the end of the month.
The CR does not include transitional medical assistance for Medicaid beneficiaries who lose eligibility because of changes to their incomes or language to stop a new Medicaid rule requiring tamper-proof prescription pads. Sources said that adding those provisions would have required budget offsets and that separate measures to address those programs still could be approved (Cohn, CongressDaily, 9/25).
Senate Republicans are planning to offer an amendment that would automatically continue funding of government programs, regardless whether the resolution passes. "Democrats are manipulating and delaying the appropriations process in order to use the threat of a government shutdown to cow lawmakers into accepting more wasteful Washington spending," according to a Republican "talking points" memo obtained by CQ Today (CQ Today, 9/25).