Six-month deal reached to avoid government shutdown

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP file photo

This story has been updated. 

Congressional leaders and the White House have reached a deal to adopt a stopgap spending bill after the August recess that would fund the government through the first quarter of 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday afternoon.

The agreement allows lawmakers to avoid engaging in an ugly spending fight during what is already expected to be an extraordinarily hectic post-election work session.

"It will provide stability for the coming months," Reid said of the funding extension. "This is very good because we can resolve these situations that directly affect the country as soon as the election is over."

The six-month continuing resolution, which Reid said would contain no policy riders, would be prorated at the 2013 spending level set by the Budget Control Act last August. Neither chamber will take up a continuing resolution bill this week; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement that the legislation would be crafted during the August recess. Congress will have eight legislative work days in September before the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. 

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., isn't thrilled about the half-year plan, though, because of the complications inherent in stopgap funding; appropriators would like to return to regular order or at lease keep any stopgap bill brief. Earlier speculation centered on whether Congress would adopt a two-month or six-month extension.

"From our perspective it would be better to have a short-term CR," said Rogers spokeswoman Jen Hing, noting the bills "are meant to be short-term Band-Aids."

Aides expected earlier this week for the resolution to be consistent with current funding levels rather than the BCA cap of $1.047 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office has not updated its score for 2012's spending rate but it is expected to show a slightly higher spending rate than the $1.043 trillion discretionary cap enacted for the fiscal year, thanks to the delay of some rescissions.

By announcing a deal on a six-month resolution this week, congressional leaders are giving agency officials time to put together requests for "anomalies," specific technical exemptions that would extend certain programs and activities, like the permission for D.C. to use its locally collected funds, not covered under a CR.

One senior Democratic appropriator last week told National Journal that he and some of his colleagues would push for sequestration legislation to be attached to the bill in exchange for giving up some of the Democrats' leverage going into the lame-duck. Reid said such requests did not come up in conversation when it came time to make a deal.
 

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