Sen. Kaine eyes another measure to make shutdowns less frequent
The Modernizing the Federal Calendar Act would shift the federal government’s fiscal year to align with the traditional calendar year.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on Wednesday introduced another bill aimed at making government shutdowns a little rarer, this time by changing the deadline for passing appropriations legislation.
The Modernizing the Federal Calendar Act would simply shift the federal government’s fiscal year, which currently runs from Oct. 1 until Sept. 30, to the traditional calendar year, running from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. In 2025, the president and Congress would adopt a three-month transition period of appropriations that run from October through December, after which every fiscal year would align with the calendar year.
The 1974 Budget and Impoundment Control Act established the October-to-September federal fiscal year used today. But in the nearly half century since the law’s enactment, Congress has only enacted year-long government funding bills through the standard appropriations process by Oct. 1 four times, most recently for the 1997 fiscal year.
“During my time in the Senate, Congress has never passed year-long government funding by the October 1 deadline and instead relies on short-term stopgap funding bills to kick the can down the road,” Kaine said in a statement. “This hurts us because federal agencies aren’t able to plan for the next year, making it difficult to carry out existing federal programs and activities that millions of Americans rely on. That’s why I’m introducing a bill to reduce the prevalence of stopgap funding and eliminate the October shutdown threat by making the end of the fiscal year align with the end of the calendar year, when Congress has historically passed a full-year government funding bill.”
Earlier this month, Kaine and Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., reintroduced the End Shutdowns Act, a bill that would automatically provide federal agencies with funding equivalent to what they would receive under a continuing resolution if Congress fails to pass spending bills on time, restricts the types of legislation that the Senate may consider during a lapse in appropriations and automatically deems appropriations and continuing resolution bills to be “emergency” legislation, allowing it to be considered on an expedited basis.
Although the measure shifting the government’s fiscal calendar would not guarantee that funding bills get passed on time, Kaine’s office argued in a fact sheet that merely shifting the traditional Sept. 30 funding deadline to December would make it easier for appropriators to reach agreement—and for agencies to implement them—each year.
“Even with a December 31 deadline, Congress will sometimes miss it and start the new year on a [continuing resolution],” the document states. “Under this scenario, the new fiscal calendar would still yield benefits, as it will give federal agencies more time to enact the appropriations bills once passed. For instance, with a Sept. 30 end to fiscal 2022, agencies had six and a half months to enact the fiscal 2022 appropriations bills passed in March 2022, cramming a year’s worth of work into half of a year. Giving them until Dec. 31 would have allowed for a more reasonable implementation timeline, ensuring that work is not rushed and instead appropriately spaced out throughout the year.”