With only days before the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30, Republicans have released a continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding for the federal government. A CR continues current federal funding levels until a specified date. Without congressional action by the end of the month, the government will shut down on October 1.
The bill, released yesterday by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS), would fund the government through December 11. In the weeks to come, congressional leaders will look to find consensus on a broader budget plan to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year.
“I encourage Senators to support this continuing resolution so that we can meet our responsibility to the American people to keep government operations open and address the challenges facing our nation,” Sen. Cochran said yesterday in a press release.
In its current iteration, the CR includes a provision to redirect funding from Planned Parenthood to community health centers unless Planned Parenthood clinics agree not to perform or fund abortions, according to a fact sheet. This provision has already ignited significant controversy, and Democrats are expected to block the bill in the Senate due to this stipulation. Following that action, a “clean CR,” or a funding bill free of controversial provisions, will be introduced, according to a report in The Hill. The clean CR is expected to pass the Senate before moving to the House. There is uncertainty over what will happen in the House, but Republican leadership has expressed a commitment to avoid a government shutdown.
Without congressional approval of the measure, the government is expected to shut down on October 1; however, federal student aid programs are forward funded, meaning current negotiations over spending levels for fiscal year 2016 would affect award year 2016-17. Certain functions administered by the Department of Education may be affected. Look for an article later this week that explains the impact of a federal government shutdown on federal student aid.
Two weeks ago, NASFAA joined 2,500 other organizations to call on Congress to raise the budget caps imposed under the Budget Control Act, also known as sequestration. With increasingly challenging budget caps, federal student aid programs are pitted against other government programs for a decreasing pool of money. It is possible that negotiations at the end of the proposed CR in December, much like the now-expired agreement between Rep. Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Murray (D-WA) that eased the impacts of sequestration two years ago, could address these caps, which have broad implications for domestic programs, especially federal student aid.
“We need a new budget deal that invests in America to protect our national security, rebuild our physical infrastructure, create jobs today and jobs tomorrow and meet compelling human needs,” said Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee in a statement. “Let’s get to work on passing a clean short term continuing funding resolution to keep the government open while we work out a sequel to the Murray-Ryan budget deal that cancels sequester,” she added.
Continue to check back with Today’s News for regular updates on the federal budget process, the potential government shutdown, and what it all means for student aid professionals.
Publication Date: 9/23/2015