Unable to pass the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education appropriations bill, which funds the U.S. Department of Education, or any of the eleven other annual spending bills prior to the start of the fiscal year on October 1, the U.S. Congress passed a temporary funding mechanism, or continuing resolution (CR), in late September. That CR, which has kept the government funded and avoided a government shutdown, is due to expire on December 11, giving lawmakers little time to come to an agreement on a permanent solution.
During the week of December 1, House Republicans are expected to consider a plan to roll eleven appropriations bills, including the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, into an omnibus bill and use another CR to fund immigration-related programs. Those favoring the CR-omnibus approach see it as a way to confront President Obama’s executive action on immigration.
Should the “Cromnibus” approach fall through, an omnibus bill that includes all twelve appropriations bills could be a possibility. Indeed, negotiations on such a bill are continuing and could produce a bill for consideration during the week of December 8. Exactly how much funding the bill could provide for education programs remains unknown because the House Appropriations Committee took no public action on its version of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.
With the clock ticking and the December 11 expiration date looming for the CR, a decision must be made soon.
For a more detailed look at how the annual congressional appropriations process works, download The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction, a new report from the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of the U.S. Congress, at http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-publish.cfm?pid=%260BL%2BP%3C%3B3%0A.