Short Term CR Provides Opportunity for Agreement to End Caps
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced he was resigning from Congress at the end of October. Many believe that this clears the way for Congress to pass a “clean” Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep government programs operating through Friday, December 11, 2015, avoiding a government shutdown this week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to move forward this week with a Senate vote on a clean CR. A clean CR is one without riders such as defunding Planned Parenthood. Advocates hope that passage of a short term CR will lead to a broader agreement to raise the sequester caps for FY16.
Congress has until midnight on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 to pass a CR that the President will sign to avoid a government shutdown. Speaker Boehner’s decision to retire indicates that he is resolved to get a clean CR through the House to avoid a shutdown.
The CR that the Senate is expected to consider would fund federal programs at FY15 levels but would impose a .21% across-the-board cut to all defense and nondefense discretionary programs to comply with FY16 sequester spending caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Passage of a short-term CR will provide Congress the opportunity to forge an agreement to end sequester caps for FY16. In his FY16 budget request, President Barack Obama is seeking $76 billion in federal funding above the FY16 sequester spending caps. The President has stated that he will veto any spending bill that does not lift the caps.
Without the caps, appropriators would be able to avoid raiding the National Housing Trust Fund as the House THUD spending bill does in order to fund the HOME program. Appropriators could also choose to fully fund the renewal of all Housing Choice vouchers currently in use and to provide for 12-month contracts for all project-based rental assistance contracts expiring in 2016. Raising the caps would also allow Appropriators to avoid gutting the HOME program as the Senate Appropriations Committee’s THUD spending bill does.
Click here to read national organizations’ letters urging Congress to raise the sequester spending caps.