One week out from the start of fiscal year (FY) 2016 and Congress has yet to decide on a path forward for funding the government that will not result in a government shutdown come October 1. A continuing resolution (CR) must be enacted in the next week to allow Congress the time it needs to complete the 12 outstanding FY 2016 appropriations bills.
Language of a short term CR could surface in the Senate as early as today. Even still, with the arrival of Pope Francis in the nation’s capital this week and a short Congressional break to observe Yom Kippur, only a handful of days separate Congress from a shutdown. Work is almost certain to continue into the weekend. And there are no guarantees that a “clean” CR floated by the Senate could pass the House, which has members still clamoring for action to defund Planned Parenthood.
Getting to October 1 is just the start; Congress must still complete the FY 2016 appropriations process in some way. But first, lawmakers on both sides are calling for broader budget negotiations to reverse sequestration. Until that happens, the FY 2016 funding bills remain in limbo. One possible outcome is that Congress will be unable to broker a broad deal and we will end up with a yearlong CR that funds the government at FY 2015 levels, thereby locking in sequestration (the tight budget caps currently in effect) for yet another year.
On September 10, COSSA joined 2,500 national, state, and local organizations on a letter to Congress urging relief from sequestration in FY 2016 by taking a balanced approach to deficit reduction. In particular, the letter notes the cuts that have already been taken to nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs, which include research funding.