Congress missed its statutory deadline on Friday for approving a budget resolution to frame work on spending legislation for Fiscal 2017, which begins Oct. 1.
On Monday Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi filed topline spending numbers based on bipartisan legislation approved last fall, saying this would allow the Senate Appropriations Committee to begin its work on annual spending bills immediately. But the lack of a congressional budget resolution is a poor omen.
Congress has frequently missed the April 15 deadline in the past, and failed to pass a budget resolution at all in 7 of the last 15 years. Often the annual budget process eventually collapses, forcing lawmakers to extend funding through short-term “continuing resolutions” to avoid government shutdowns.
Republican congressional leaders have been hoping for a smoother budget process this year. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that his chamber was “waiting to see” if the House is able to pass a budget resolution.
Many House Republicans continue to oppose the legislation approved last fall, which raised an earlier cap on 2017 “discretionary” spending by $30 billion. (Discretionary spending is subject to annual congressional approval.)
House Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated last week that “we do want to pass a budget,” but suggested that he might let appropriations legislation move forward without one.