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Policy

Congress keeps government open for short term

by Andrea Widener
October 3, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 39

With a shutdown of the federal government looming, Congress passed a bill last week to keep the government running at its current funding levels through Dec. 9. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure. Squabbles over funding to combat the Zika virus and to help restore the water system in Flint, Mich., had stalled an agreement for weeks. The government was set to close if a compromise was not reached by Oct. 1, when fiscal-year 2017 began. Continuing resolutions like this are generally considered bad for science since they make it difficult for agencies to start new programs and plan for future awards. However, Congress hasn’t passed a budget through its normal appropriations process since 1997. The bill provides $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus, less than the $1.9 billion that Obama had asked for but more than Republicans had offered earlier. Members of Congress have gone home to campaign for the November election. They will return to Washington for a lame-duck session to pass more permanent 2017 funding.

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