Disputes, Difficulties Continue on 2017 Spending Bills

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Senators last week continued to struggle with Fiscal 2017 spending bills, with heated disputes over gun control measures, Planned Parenthood and funding levels to fight the Zika virus throwing appropriations work off-track.

The House, meanwhile, was on an extended July 4 recess that began early the previous week after Democrats staged a sit-down protest in that chamber over gun control. Although some lawmakers are discussing ways to move forward as they return to Capitol Hill this week, time is running short for them to deal with 2017 funding in an orderly way.

An extended congressional recess is scheduled because of the political conventions, and so far Congress has failed to send the President any of the 12 spending bills needed for the coming year. Lawmakers also failed to pass a budget resolution to guide the work on these bills.

All this indicates that Congress will likely need to rely on a large “continuing resolution” to keep the government open when Fiscal 2017 begins Oct. 1. Such resolutions generally continue current funding levels into the early weeks or months of a new fiscal year, regardless of changing needs and federal priorities.

Such measures are not a responsible way to budget for the coming year, and naturally raise even more doubts about whether lawmakers are devoting sufficient energy and attention to the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.

External links:
Zika Bill Is Blocked by Senate Democrats Upset Over Provisions (N.Y. Times)
What Is a Continuing Resolution? (Concord)

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