Where Things Stand at the August Recess
With less than two months left until the start of the new fiscal year, Congress has yet to enact even one appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013. Part of the holdup is that the House and Senate are starting from two very different points; a $19 billion difference to be precise. The House passed a budget resolution this spring that provided $1.028 trillion in overall discretionary spending. In contrast, the Senate did not pass a budget resolution and is adhering to the FY 2013 discretionary spending level of $1.047 trillion included in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25). House and Senate appropriators have proceeded with the appropriations process under these different levels. To date, the House has acted on 11 bills (of which six have been passed by the full House). The full Senate has not considered any appropriations bills, but its Appropriations Committee has approved 11 bills.
Initially, it was expected that Congress would finalize the FY 2013 budget after the November election during a lame-duck session. However, prior to adjourning for the August recess, congressional leaders announced that they had reached an agreement on a six-month continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through March 31, 2013. The length of the CR is, in part, to allow Congress to focus on expiring tax provisions and the BCA sequester during the lame-duck session. Details on the CR have yet to be worked out, and legislation will not be considered until September.