This week the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2012 is expected to be completed when President Obama signs a $915 billion omnibus appropriations bill into law. Since the fiscal year began Oct. 1, several federal agencies had been funded through a series of short-term continuing resolutions that provided Congress with additional time to reach agreement.
With the enactment of the omnibus, the threat of a government shutdown this year has been averted and all federal agencies will now be funded through the end of the fiscal year. The House had passed the bill Friday with a 296-121 vote and the Senate approved it Saturday with a vote of 67-32.
The bill included the nine appropriations bills which had not yet been enacted: Defense, Energy and Water, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior/Environment, Labor/Health and Human Services/Education, the Legislative Branch, Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, and State/Foreign Operations.
When the omnibus bill is combined with the previously enacted bills, discretionary funding for FY 2012 will equal $1.043 trillion -- the level both parties agreed to as a part of the law that raised the debt limit earlier this year (the Budget Control Act of 2011).
In a year when several bipartisan deficit reduction efforts have failed, the completion of the appropriations process using the framework included in the debt limit law offers at least one promising sign. Appropriations cuts alone are not enough to address our fiscal challenges -- but the bipartisanship of the agreement is an example Congress should follow in addressing the revenue and mandatory spending policies that drive deficit spending.