With the federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 set to begin on October 1 and the U.S. Congress yet to pass any of the twelve annual spending bills, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a stopgap spending bill, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), on September 13 that will keep the government funded through March 27, 2013 and avoid a government shutdown.
The CR includes an across-the-board increase in funding of 0.612 percent, which translates into a $416.8 million increase in overall funding for the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the bill during the week of September 17 and President Obama has indicated that he will sign it. Within thirty days of the bill’s passage, the U.S. Department of Education must submit an operating plan outlining the funding levels for each program under its jurisdiction.
The $416.8 million increase is less than the $1.7 billion increase recommended by President Obama in his FY 2013 budget, but it is larger than the $400 million increase included in the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education appropriations bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee passed on June 14. It is $1.5 billion higher than the amount included in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that passed the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee on July 18, which would have cut funding for the U.S. Department of Education by $1.1 billion compared to FY 2012.
While pleased that Republicans and Democrats could compromise on a CR that will keep the government from shutting down, very few members of either party see the CR as an ideal solution. “Let no one think that putting the government on autopilot for a full six months is a good idea,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI). “Resources that could have been used for more urgent or important projects will instead be available for lower-priority items.”
“This CR is a good-faith effort to provide limited but fair funding for government programs. It fulfills the responsibility of Congress to maintain the continuity of our government and its vital programs and services—for our people, nation, and for the stability of our economy,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). “However it is essential that we move away from relying on these short-term funding Band-Aids. We must return to passing critical funding legislation in the way the Constitution intended—as individual, regular appropriations bills that provide oversight of government programs and respond to our national needs and financial realities.”