As the August recess hits the Hill, experts say House and Senate leaders have agreed on a continuing resolution to fund federal agencies through next year. This agreement will allow federal agencies to continue operating for another six months after the fiscal year ends on September 30th. Federal spending will remain at levels consistent with those outlined in the Federal Budget Control Act of 2011, the agreement established last year to reduce the federal deficit by setting caps on discretionary budget authority each year for the next ten years.
This agreement affirms that the federal appropriations process for FY2013 has come to a temporary halt, but as analysts at AAAS add, this might not be all bad. Unsurprisingly the Administration and Senate Democrats have been caught in debate with the House GOP over reducing the federal deficit with spending limitations. In late April, the House passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Pathway to Prosperity” budget resolution, which hits energy R&D investment hard and potentially cuts some energy innovation program budgets by 55 percent. The House budget resolution caps spending overall at $1.028 trillion, which is below the necessary cap required by the Budget Control Act, and since the President has already made clear his intentions to veto any budget proposals that cap spending at a lower level than indicated by the Budget Control Act, it is likely that the continuing resolution agreed upon by both House and Senate leaders will be closer to FY2012 spending levels – about $1.05 trillion overall.
With Congress attempting to address a number of economic issues before the nation falls off an ominously-dubbed “fiscal cliff,” it is not surprising that the legislative body has pushed the responsibilities of the appropriations process onto the next Congress. Specific details on what the spending cap will mean for federal agencies and programs won’t be available until the resolution is officially released in September – check back in the coming weeks for a budget outlook for key energy innovation programs under the resolution.