House Passes Stopgap Funding Bill; Senate Expected to Vote Today
Yesterday, the House passed H.J. Res. 124, a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through December 11, 2014. In a rare show of bipartisan support, the bill passed 319 to 108. The continuing resolution carries over agencies’ funding at the current-year rate of $1.012 trillion.
The Senate today will consider and debate the House’s continuing resolution. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already said that the measure must pass in order to prevent a government shutdown. Lawmakers are eager to return home to their districts for the midterm campaign season and avoid a repeat of last year’s 16-day shutdown.
The continuing resolution allows Congress to punt major decisions about the budget until after the elections. How Congress chooses to proceed during the post-election lame duck session will depend in large part upon whether the balance of power between the parties changes to an extent that would give either party greater leverage in budget negotiations.
Meanwhile, House Democrats on the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee have released their own draft of a fiscal year 2015 funding bill that would bring most programs under the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Departments back to their pre-sequester levels while remaining within the House Appropriations Committee’s $155.7 billion allocation for these agencies. It accomplishes this cost neutrality by using additional offsets to reduce the cost of the bill.
The Democrats’ bill provides $1.047 billion for the Center for Mental Health Services, while carrying over the 5% early intervention set-aside in the Mental Health Block Grant. It also provides $2.063 billion for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and $185.956 million for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Line-item appropriations for programs within these divisions were not specified. Bill sponsors Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) said they introduced the bill to call attention to the fact that the House has not put forward its own Labor-HHS-Education bill for two consecutive years. Click here to read a fact sheet on the bill.