I can't say I have a good feeling about this. Why are they cooperating on this?
WASHINGTON — The top Republican and Democrat on Capitol Hill have announced an agreement to keep the government running on autopilot for six months when the current budget year ends on Sept. 30.
The announcements by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP House Speaker John Boehner are aimed at averting any chance of a government shutdown this fall. The legislation will pass in September.
The deal would also lighten the crush of business in a post-election congressional session agenda that’s already overloaded.
“The speaker and I and the president have agreed that we’re going to fund the government for the next six months,” Reid said. “It’ll provide stability for the coming months.”
The agreement would fund the government at levels called for by last summer’s budget and debt pact between Boehner and President Barack Obama.
While precise details will be ironed out over the August congressional recess, the deal embraces spending at a total annualized rate of $1.047 trillion for the day-to-day operations of Cabinet departments like the Pentagon and other federal agencies.
“We are encouraged that both sides have agreed to resolve this issue without delay,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “The President has made clear that it is essential that the legislation to fund the government adheres to the funding levels agreed to by both parties last year.”
That’s a retreat for Republicans, who had sought to cut $19 billion below the budget agreement reached last summer with President Barack Obama and shift $8 billion more from domestic agencies to the Pentagon. The alternative of risking a government shutdown just weeks before Election Day was an unacceptable alternative to GOP leaders who want to keep the spotlight off of Congress and on the presidential race in the weeks running up to Nov. 6.
Via Roll Call, Debbie Stabenow says other measures could be attached to the continuing resolution:
One possibility, she said, was to add disaster assistance for farmers to deal with the drought in the Midwest. “It could be, if people agreed to it. A lot of things are expiring Sept. 30,” Stabenow said. She said the CR was unlikely to be completed until September.
However, sources today said House GOP leaders were thinking of moving a separate disaster aid measure this week, before adjourning for the August recess.
There’s been a growing consensus among lawmakers across the political spectrum that it would be best to delay the wrap-up of fiscal 2013 appropriations into the next session of Congress. Fiscal 2013 begins Oct. 1, making it critical that Congress clear a continuing resolution before Members of the House and about a third of the Senate head home to campaign in October.
Many members of the conservative House Republican Study Committee have said they would grudgingly support a CR set at the fiscal 2013 level agreed to in last year’s debt limit deal and also accept interim funding for implementing the 2010 health overhaul in exchange for delaying fiscal 2013 appropriations. Republicans are betting on gains in November that could enable them to push for deep spending cuts next year.
This also clears the deck for a Grand Bargain in the lame duck session. Stay tuned.