In what has become an annual exercise, Congress has passed a budget measure to avoid a federal government shutdown. The so-called continuing resolution for 2013 will fund all government programs at fiscal 2012 levels for the first six months of fiscal 2013, which starts today.
The House of Representatives passed the continuing resolution on Sept. 13 by a vote of 329-91. The Senate vote came just after midnight on Sept. 22, with 62 voting for the measure and 30 against it. President Barack Obama was scheduled to sign the bill after C&EN’s press time.
“I support this measure even though it is far from perfect,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) before the upper chamber’s vote. “I would say that it is not a particularly good bill, but passing it is much better than allowing the government to shut down over a lack of funding.”
Likewise, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s top Republican expressed frustration. “The resolution represents a lost opportunity,” said Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). “We have lost the opportunity to provide agencies with at least some certainty about funding for this fiscal year. We have lost the opportunity to make informed judgments about which programs are effective and deserving of additional resources, and which programs should be reformed or terminated.”
Congressional leaders and the White House announced their support of a continuing resolution to avoid the threat of a shutdown during the run-up to the November elections. Although the House passed six of the dozen 2013 appropriations bills, the Senate failed to pass any of them.