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DeLauro Seeking Short-Term CR as Step Toward Larger Budget Deal

November 19, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., House Appropriations Committee Chair, at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol in October 2021.

WASHINGTON — House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said Thursday she wants the House to pass a short-term continuing resolution that doesn’t extend into the new year so that Congress has time to negotiate an omnibus package but doesn’t incentivize dawdling.

Government funding runs out on Dec. 3 and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said earlier this week that the nation’s debt ceiling must be suspended or increased by Dec. 15 “to ensure the full faith and credit of the United States.”

DeLauro not only wants a short CR, she also wants a narrow one without provisions that would allow federal agencies to manipulate their budgets and spend on things not ordinarily included in a continuing resolution.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, because of the nature of continuing resolutions federal agencies and departments are expected to operate at a minimal level until after their regular fiscal year appropriations are enacted.

This means that no programs or activities are to be started, but oftentimes exemptions, known as anomalies, are written into a resolution to take the sting out of what is supposed to be a period of austerity.

“The purpose of anomalies is to preserve Congress’s constitutional prerogative to provide appropriations in the manner it sees fit, even in instances when only short-term funding is

provided,” the Congressional Research Service said in its most recent report on continuing resolutions.

DeLauro wants none of that this time, telling reporters during a pen and pad session Thursday that she considers anomalies a way for lawmakers to get around the process of passing full-year appropriations.

But many on Capitol Hill think DeLauro’s position is either overly ambitious or overly optimistic.

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, the top Republican appropriator in the Senate, told Roll Call Wednesday he believes it would take a miracle to get a deal done in December.

Instead, he said, he expects a longer continuing resolution will be needed, perhaps even one extending into February or March.

Complicating things in the near-term is the fact the debate over spending will occur just as the Senate is taking on the $1.75 trillion social program and climate spending bill passed by the House on Friday.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated he hopes the Senate will pass its version of the legislation by Christmas.

If Republicans and Democrats can’t work out full-year appropriations bills by then, Shelby told Roll Call, the stopgap spending could be a reality right on through to the end of the fiscal year.

In a letter sent to her Democratic colleagues earlier this week, DeLauro summed up the history of how Congress came to be where it is today, and her views on the way forward.

The House Appropriations Committee reported all 12 annual appropriations bills out of Committee and passed nine of the 12 off the House Floor before the start of the August district work period. 

Delays in the Senate meant that a short-term continuing resolution was needed to extend government funding through December 3. It was only last month that Senate Democrats released their remaining appropriations bills after approving three bills in Committee over the summer.

“With the Democratic proposals in hand, there is no reason why we cannot proceed to conference negotiations between the House and Senate to produce bipartisan appropriations bills for fiscal year 2022,” DeLauro said. “I have directly engaged with House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership to begin these discussions. 

“Unfortunately, we continue to await House and Senate Republicans coming to the table with a proposal as a next step in the process to reaching an agreement on appropriations,” she continued, adding, “If there is no proposal, the consequences of not acting are reckless, irresponsible and would prevent us from making critical funding adjustments in our federal budget to address ongoing and new challenges the American people face.” 

In DeLauro’s view, avoiding a full-year continuing resolution is critical because it would, among other things, prevent the expansion of programs and the awarding of grants in areas such as medical research, education, environmental protection and combating the opioid epidemic. 

A full year continuing resolution would also put community project funding on hold, and would create a $7 billion shortfall for mandatory veteran’s benefits, she said.

And the consequences for national security are just as dire, with cybersecurity remaining in flux, and much anticipated pay raises put on hold.

“I have made clear to my Republican counterparts that we are ready to negotiate in good faith, with the understanding that compromises on both sides will be needed to reach the bipartisan, bicameral agreement to complete this process,” DeLauro said.

“I am committed to resolving all policy and funding items as part of the normal bicameral, bipartisan negotiations that always govern the annual conference process,” she said.

On Friday, a broad coalition of social services, national security, and veterans advocacy groups endorsed DeLauro’s position.

Among these were the Association of American Universities, Association of American Universities, Aerospace Industries Association, the Coalition on Human Needs and the National Defense Industrial Association.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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