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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Appropriations Vote Delayed in Wake of Counterterrorism Announcement

September 11, 2014 | Federal Budget | Comments
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A planned House vote to prevent a repeat of last year’s government shutdown has been derailed in the wake of President Obama’s request for funding to arm and train fighters against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Obama announced the funding request in a Wednesday address outlining his strategy to combat ISIS. Earlier in the week, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) had unveiled a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running through December 11, 2014. Generally considered a “clean” CR because it included few extraneous policy riders that could complicate its passage, that bill was due for a vote in the House today. Though no major funding measure can go through Congress without a fight, authors of the package hoped it would win bipartisan support, allowing both parties to wrap up work on the CR and head home for their midterm election campaigns as quickly as possible.

With Obama’s request for new military funding, the CR now faces a more complicated route to passage. Congress must take action on the budget before September 30, when the federal fiscal year ends. Because lawmakers have not yet enacted any of the 12 annual spending bills that fund the government, failure to pass a CR before the end of the month would result in a government shutdown. Yet, negotiations on the CR will now be tied up in the debate over the appropriate U.S. response to the crisis in Syria and Iraq.

In another development that could throw a wrench in the CR negotiations, some House Republicans have indicated they will push for a longer extension of the government funding – likely through March 1, 2015.  Pushing the next big appropriations debate into the next Congressional session could yield a Republican-controlled Senate, and with it, more opportunities for the GOP to seek spending cuts.

The House will postpone its vote on the CR until next week, giving Republican and Democratic leaders additional time to negotiate its details.