Hitching a Ride on the Continuing Resolution

Congressional leaders may want a “clean” stop gap spending measure, but lawmakers already are showing they have different ideas of what makes a bill clean.

Leaders likely will wait until September to decide what, if any, additions or changes will be permitted to the six-month continuing resolution (CR). It is expected to set discretionary spending at the $1.047 trillion cap prescribed by last year’s debt limit accord. The funding would by and large keep agencies at current levels. Conservatives had sought cuts, but they acquiesced with promises from leaders of no new spending and hopes that gains on Capitol Hill in the November elections would allow them to push for reductions when the CR runs out in spring. Still, lawmakers, lobbyists and budget observers believe there could be some room to shift funds within in the cap and add policy provisions; in addition, they have not ruled out adding some emergency funds.

Appropriators want to make a few changes to reflect immediate and urgent needs for some agencies, known as anomalies. C.W. Bill Young, the chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, is seeking language that would temporarily bar the Air Force from shifting around aircraft used by National Guard units, direct the Navy to modernize rather than retire three cruisers and allow advance funding for starting work in 2014 on a second Virginia-class submarine. The Florida Republican said he already had given his list of anomalies to Boehner and House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and said his requests are based on funding and provisions already in the fiscal 2013 Defense appropriations bill (HR 5856), which the House passed in July. NGAUS weighed in with Chairman Young's office on the Air Guard language in July, expressing the critical need to include the language related to the Air Guard "pause" to ensure that no personnel or force structure would be affected in the interim CR until the defense bills are finally passed. Any chance to make clear to the Air Force that it's not okay to make their changes is a chance that we think should be taken.....because they don't always listen.

Congress is also likely to be pressed to attach emergency drought aid and an extension of expiring farm bill provisions to the CR, too, since they've been unable to pass a full farm bill through the two chambers.

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