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S02E06: H.J. Res. 44

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cross-posted from Main Street Insider

This week’s summary takes a look at House Joint Resolution 44, the continuing resolution that funds the government through March 18th while Congress continues to negotiate the budget for FY2011. This budget fight is the hot topic in DC, seeing as it will undoubtedly affect every issue going forward.

90 Second Summaries: Season 2, Episode 6

H.J.Res. 44: Further Continuing Appropriations Amendments, 2011


Introduced 2/28/2011 (language unveiled 2/25/11)

Sponsor: Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY5)

Click here to download this summary (pdf)

Cosponsors: none

Status: Enacted into law, and is effective through 3/18/11. Passed House on 3/1/11 by 335-91 margin, passed Senate on 3/2/11 by 91-9 margin. Signed  Will require enactment of a new CR by March 18th to avert a government shutdown.

Purpose: In most years, Congress passes annual appropriations bills to set spending levels for the coming fiscal year. However, no budget was passed for Fiscal Year 2011 (October 1st, 2010 – September 30th, 2011). Instead, the Democratic-led 111th Congress chose to maintain FY2010 spending levels through a series of continuing resolutions (CRs). These must-pass bills carry with them an expiration date, and failure to pass a new resolution by that date leads to a “government shutdown”. March 4th, 2011 is one such deadline, and House Republicans are demanding significant budget cuts as a condition of passage.

Summary: While negotiations for a long-term extension are ongoing, H.J.Res. 44 is a 2-week CR through March 18th, introduced by House Republican leadership, that contains roughly $4 billion in cuts. These cuts are equal to the levels contained in House-passed H.R. 1, the prorated equivalent of $100 billion/year. However, unlike H.R. 1, the two-week bill features cuts either to programs proposed in President Obama’s budget or earmarks Obama has vowed to veto. Details include:

• Elimination of eight programs totaling $1.24 billion, most notably general fund highway spending ($650M) and four Dept. of Ed programs – Striving Readers, LEAP, Even Start and Smaller Learning Communities (combined $468M). All programs eliminated were either one-time FY2010 expenditures or proposed for termination in President Obama’s FY2012 budget request.

• Elimination of $2.7 billion worth of earmarks primarily from the Energy and Water, Homeland Security, Labor/HHS/Education, and Transportation/HUD appropriations bills. President Obama and many Democrats in Congress have expressed support for an earmark ban. However, the amount of cuts represents less than one-fifth of total earmarks in the FY2010 budget.

Note: the cuts of $4 billion reflect the amount that would be saved if extended through a full year. Prorated over two weeks, the real budget savings will equal around $154 million.

See the full list of programs cut at http://bit.ly/hNysQj

CBO Score: none provided.

Supporters: Bipartisan coalition spanning the ideological spectrum

• Notwithstanding widely divergent views overall, supporters see this compromise measure as necessary to averting a government shutdown while negotiations toward a longer-term solution continue.

Opponents: Some Democrats, other scattered individuals

• Those speaking out against the bill in the House decried the education cuts as harmful to children. Yet it appears many of the no votes arose from the opposition to the compromise of a two-week extension itself, and the Obama Administration has expressed opposition to a series of short-term continuing resolutions.

Further links

Full resolution text: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=hj112-44

Official CRS Summary: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hj112-44&tab=summary

House Approps bill summary: http://appropriations.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=266

WaPo article on the state of play: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/02/AR2011030203449.html

National Taxpayers Union press release: http://www.ntu.org/news-and-issues/budget-spending/nations-oldest-taxpayer-1.html

Minority Leader Pelosi floor speech: http://pelosi.house.gov/news/press-releases/2011/03/pelosi-floor-statement-against-gop-short-term-continuing-resolution.shtml