The Senate is scheduled to take up a temporary seven-week budget for the Pentagon and federal government today that would kick in on Saturday, though the measure’s fate is uncertain.
The Republican-led House passed a so-called continuing resolution (CR) for fiscal year 2012 early last Friday morning that would cut funding for the Pentagon and most federal agencies by 1.4 percent below the present FY ’11 levels until Nov. 18. The Democratic-controlled Senate, though, rejected that CR last Friday, as lawmakers clashed over funding in the legislation for natural-disaster assistance and Energy Department loans.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used a procedural move to compel a vote for tonight on a revised CR, with the same underling 1.4 percent cut to the Pentagon’s current budget. It was not clear last Friday if the new measure would have enough support in the Senate; it includes less natural-disaster assistance than the Senate previously supported and also funds the energy programs the House cut.
Reid, joined with Democratic leaders from the House and Senate in a Friday press conference, said he hopes the new measure will pass, considering it has the smaller amount of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding that was in the House-passed bill.
“What we’ve done averts a government shutdown and will make sure that hundreds of thousands of Americans who are suffering in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes get the relief they deserve,” Reid argued. “But it also maintains our position that we should not have to kill jobs (by ending the energy programs) to provide disaster relief to people who need it.”
The CR is needed because Congress has passed none of the 12 federal spending bills for fiscal year 2012, which starts Saturday, Oct. 1.
The 1.4 percent spending cut in the CR is intended to meet spending caps set in the Budget Control Act of 2011 that President Barack Obama signed on Aug. 2.
For the base defense budget, the cut in the CR would mean a $7.4 billion reduction from the current $532 billion total. War funding in the CR would be set at $118 billion, which is the amount in the House-passed FY ’12 defense appropriations bill and less than the $157 billion in FY ’11.
The House Appropriations Committee said the extra war funding would cover “defense survival equipment” including Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles and body armor for deployed troops.
The Pentagon cannot enter into contracts or start new programs when a CR is in place.
The House and Senate had planned to be in recess this week, though the CR squabbling has changed those plans.