Federal Budget Blues



Passing a federal budget has been… well… let’s say “challenging” for Congress for the last seven fiscal years (FY). It was spring of 2009 when a full budget resolution was more recently passed for FY10. FY10 is the last year Congress passed an ACTUAL full fiscal year budget. (Seriously. I’m not making this up. It was 7 ½ years ago.)

FY17 is no exception to our challenging budget times. At the end of September, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to fund government through December 9, 2016. This date seems strategic – it got them through the election and their very long November recess.

Now, they are looking to punt again. Congress returns to the beltway next week to finish their lame duck session and fund government beyond December 9. While it would be prudent for them to fund government all the way through September 30, 2017 – the end of the next government fiscal – my money’s on another CR.

Republicans have controlled the House and Senate since 2015. (This is an observation, not a political commentary.) A Presidential transition certainly adds a quirk to the process. This quirk is neither unplanned nor unprecedented.

A few options for what happens next, for those still reading a blog about the status of the federal budget:

  • Congress passes a minibus to fund government through 30 September 2017.
  • Congress passes (and the President signs) another short term CR to allow the new Republican president input into the budget and avoid a presidential veto. (This puts great pressure on the incoming OMB Director.)
  • #2 happens and the President vetoes the CR. (This would clearly change the tone of the transition.)