Senate Democrats

S. Amdt. 4885 to H.R. 3082, Continuing Resolution Through March 4, 2011

Summary

This week, the Senate is expected to consider a Continuing Resolution that will fund federal government operations through March 4, 2011.  Under the new Continuing Resolution, funding would continue at Fiscal Year 2010 enacted levels for most programs. 

This legislation was offered as a Senate amendment, S.Amdt. 4885, to the Fiscal Year 2011 Consolidated Appropriations Act, H.R.3082.  Senator Reid filed cloture on the underlying legislative vehicle, H.R.3082, on Sunday, December 19, 2010.  The resulting cloture vote is expected to take place Tuesday, December 21, 2010.  The Continuing Resolution currently in effect, H.J.Res.105, expires at midnight on December 21, 2010. 

Talking Points

Senate Republicans decided to play politics instead of doing their jobs when they forced Congress to adopt a short-term CR at the very last minute, instead of supporting the bipartisan Senate Omnibus appropriations bill they helped craft and had previously agreed to move forward in the Senate.

By forcing Congress to set aside the Senate Omnibus bill and pass a short-term Continuing Resolution:

  • Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan compromise bill that reflected a careful, yearlong effort by members of both parties who worked together to examine the President’s budget request, hold hundreds of hearings and thousands of meetings, and seek justification from every federal department and agency regarding how taxpayer dollars are being spent. 
     
  • Senate Republicans rejected a bill that would have responsibly funded the federal government in line with an overall spending cap (Sessions-McCaskill amendment) that they themselves sought earlier this year.
     
  • Senate Republicans abdicated Congress’s basic duty under the Constitution to take responsibility for spending decisions and provide much needed oversight of the Executive Branch’s funding requests.
     
  • Senate Republicans showed that they would rather take a blunt approach to the budget regardless of a program’s merit or need, thereby allowing unelected bureaucrats to determine how taxpayer funds are allocated.
     
  • Senate Republicans just kicked the can down the road, forcing Congress to revisit the same old issue only a few months later when we should be spending this time on efforts to create jobs and strengthen America’s middle class.
     
  • Senate Republicans killed the new funding they requested themselves for local projects directly benefiting constituents in their own home states.

Major Provisions

The following information was provided by the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Ongoing programs.  Under the new Continuing Resolution, funding would continue at Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 enacted levels for most programs.  In total, the Continuing Resolution would provide funding at a rate approximately $1.16 billion over the FY 2010 level. 

Extended Authorizations and Other Actions.  The Continuing Resolution (CR) extends authorizations or allows for continuous normal operations through March 4, 2011, for certain programs that would otherwise expire or be severely disrupted, including:

New Anomalies:

  • Freezes the pay of Federal civilian employees for two calendar years starting in 2011.
  • Ensures that the Department of Health and Human Services obligates the same amount for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) during the CR as it obligated during the same period in FY 2010.
  • Ensures that the maximum Pell Grant award remains at the same level it was in FY 2010.
  • Clarifies the definition of a “highly qualified teacher.”
  • Adjusts the amount available for operations of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to prevent layoffs that would cause the agency to cease almost all operations.
  • Adjusts the current rate of operations for the Veterans Benefits Administration to $2.1 billion, an increase of $460 million over the FY 2010 appropriation, to prevent layoffs of claims processers and to support efforts in reducing the processing times of disability claims.
  • Prevents elimination of over $4.3 billion of reduced fee loans for small businesses that would otherwise expire.
  • Ensures adequate funding to prevent significant scaling back of critical audits and investigations of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
  • Prevents the need for a rate increase on telecommunications companies that would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher charges to consumer phone bills.
  • Extends authority for current surface transportation programs to ensure that State departments of transportation and local transit agencies will be able to continue their ongoing infrastructure investments.
  • Provides transfer authority for the Transportation Security Administration to sustain efforts to improve defenses against terrorist attacks, such as the attack on Northwest Flight 253 last December and the recent attempts against all-cargo aircraft.
  • Provides transfer authority to the Coast Guard to address operational challenges, such as military pay.

Anomalies continued from the previous CR:

  • Allows the Federal Air Marshals to maintain the existing FY 2010 4th quarter coverage level for international and domestic flights.
  • Allows the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to maintain the level of Customs and Border Protection personnel in place in the final quarter of FY 2010.
  • Extends the authority for the Department of Defense to execute the Commanders Emergency Response Program, which is an essential tool for military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Extends the application period for retroactive stop loss benefits throughout the duration of the continuing resolution.
  • Extends for the duration of the CR the existing authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to retain its authority to regulate chemical facilities that present high levels of risk.
  • Extends for the duration of the CR the existing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authority to provide technical and financial assistance to States and localities for pre-disaster hazard mitigation activities.
  • Adjusts the current rate of operations for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons program to $7 billion, a $624 million increase over FY 2010 appropriation, in conjunction with the START Treaty.
  • Provides for the continuation of a program included under the Child Nutrition Act, which will allow for school feeding activities where year round activities occur.
  • Provides an additional $23 million to the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (formerly the Minerals Management Service) for increased oil rig inspections in the Gulf of Mexico.  The increase in funding is fully offset with a rescission of unobligated balances.
  • Allows the National Cord Blood Inventory contracts to continue at their current level through the duration of the CR.
  • Extends the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant and Child Care Entitlement to States program at their current level through the duration of the CR.
  • Reduces the amount available for BRAC 2005 from over $7 billion in FY 2010 to a rate equal to $2.35 billion, the FY 2011 request.
  • Adjusts the current rate for operations for the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program in order to include in the rate for operations the $965 million that was advanced for Israel, Egypt, and Jordan in the FY 2009 Supplemental.
  • Continues the rate of operations for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF) at $700 million. This section also continues the terms and conditions included in the FY 2009 and FY 2010 Supplemental bills.
  • Reduces the amount available for Census programs from over $7 billion in FY 2010 to a rate equal to $964 million annually, the same as the amount recommended for FY 2011.
  • Permits the District of Columbia to spend funds under its local budget beginning on and after the October 1, 2010, start of fiscal year.
  • Allows the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which is responsible for coordinating the federal policy relating to homelessness, to continue operating.
  • Extends the current Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program loan limits for high cost areas through FY 2011.
  • Extends the current Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan limits for high cost areas through FY 2011.
  • Extends the current GSE loan limits for high cost areas through FY 2011.

Legislative History

The House-passed Continuing Resolution that is the legislative vehicle for the new Continuing Resolution, H.R.3082, originated in the House on June 26, 2009, as the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010.  On December 8, 2010, the House amended a Senate-passed version of this bill with a government-wide Continuing Resolution as a substitute amendment.  This House-passed Continuing Resolution was received in the Senate on December 9, 2010. 

On December 14, 2010, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Inouye released details of the year-long Senate Omnibus bill.  However, this legislation was set aside in the face of unified Republican obstructionism.  Instead, the Senate will consider a short-term Continuing Resolution through March 4, 2011, S.Amdt. 4885

On December 19, 2010, Senator Reid filed cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R.3082, with a Reid amendment in the nature of a substitute, S.Amdt. 4885.  The resulting vote is expected to take place on Tuesday, December 21, 2010. 

At present, a Continuing Resolution, H.J.Res.105, is in effect until midnight on Tuesday, December 21, 2010.

Expected Amendments

DPC will circulate any information related to amendments to its staff listservs.

Administration Position

As of this writing, the White House has not released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the Continuing Resolution through March 4, 2011. (Previous SAPs were issued for H.R.3082 when this bill was the appropriations measure for military construction and veterans affairs.)  All SAPs are posted to the White House website here.

Resources

  • Full Text of the Continuing Resolution through March 4, 2011, S.19DE0-0026:e34076:43045">S.Amdt.4885, and Bill Summary & Status information for H.R.3082, the legislative vehicle for the amendment
  • Bill Summary & Status information for H.J.Res.105, the Continuing Resolution currently in effect through December 21, 2010
  • THOMAS chart on the status of FY11 appropriations legislation
  • Congressional Research Service’s list of key CRS reports on appropriations
  • Senate Appropriations Committee’s summary of the Continuing Resolution Through March 4, 2011
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