Washington’s fiscal year began two months ago but elected officials still seem a long way from agreement on spending plans for the next 10 months.
As in past years, the regular budget process broke down and lawmakers are now trying to cram months of budget work into a few days.The stop-gap measure that is keeping the government open — called a “continuing resolution” — expires a week from this Friday.
On Monday, however, both House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the White House indicated that a short-term extension of the continuing resolution is a possibility if lawmakers run out of time.
The continuing resolution sets spending roughly at last year’s levels, regardless of changing needs and priorities. If Congress deadlocks again, still more tax dollars could be wasted on another government shutdown.
Now spending plans for the rest of Fiscal 2016 are likely to be wrapped into one massive package that lawmakers will have little time to consider.
Complicating matters is that Republicans are considering controversial policy “riders” that range from loosening environmental regulations to blocking conflict-of-interest provisions for investment advisers.
Further illustrating the difficulties of fiscal reform, lawmakers have discussed whether to repeal even a modest cut they approved only weeks ago in crop insurance subsidies.
In addition, Congress faces a deadline this Friday to act on overdue transportation legislation.