Despite Earlier Hopes, Budget Process Derails Again

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Congress appears once again to have botched one of its key responsibilities: Approving a dozen spending bills for the coming fiscal year in a timely fashion.

Many lawmakers, particularly in the GOP leadership, had hoped to put the budget process back on track this year.

At this point, however, lawmakers are about to start their long August recess, Fiscal 2016 isonly two months away, and none of the necessary appropriations bills have been sent to the President. High-level bipartisan negotiations haven’t even started.

So to avoid a government shutdown, Congress will likely have to fall back, as it has so often in the past, on a continuing resolution (CR) — a stop-gap measure to allow government spending to generally continue at current levels until lawmakers approve permanent appropriations legislation.

But continuing resolutions are a poor way to govern. They don’t take into account changing needs and priorities, and make it harder for government agencies to plan effectively and spend money wisely.

“It’s pretty clear, given the number of days we’re going to be here in September, that we’re going to have to do a CR of some sort,” House Speaker John Boehner said last week.

As if further evidence of congressional procrastination were needed, he added: “But no decisions have been made about that. We’ll deal with it in September when we get back.”

External links:
What Is a Continuing Resolution? (Concord)
Boehner: Short-Term Bill Likely to Avoid a Shutdown (The Hill)

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