FY 13 Appropriations Still in Limbo

March 27th is the date on which the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires.  Without Congressional action, the Federal Government will have to shut down because there won’t be funds to support its work throughout the remainder of the fiscal year.  This is a more serious deadline – with more immediate consequences – than the March 1st onset of the sequester that calls for an 8.2% across the board reduction in Federal agency budgets.

Congress has a very small window of opportunity in which to act.  They’ve just returned from a week away from Capitol Hill and are scheduled for a two week Easter Recess beginning March 25th.  Given that little legislative action takes place in either chamber on either Mondays or Fridays (to accommodate travelling Members), there are only about six or seven work days to get something done.

The question now becomes what would that “something” look like?  House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) is working toward combining some new Agency-specific funding with a CR extension for most of the remaining Federal programs.  The concept (shared by his Senate Approps counterpart Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)) would be to package Defense, Veterans, and Military Construction FY 13 funds into an Omnibus measure and extend current CR funding levels for the rest of the year.  The alternative would be to pass a straight six-month extension of the current CR.  In any event, the overall funding would have to reflect an approximately $69 billion in reductions caused by the March 1st sequester from the original $1.04 trillion discretionary spending cap set for FY 13.