It’s still uncertain when Congress will finish the work on the remaining FY 2009 Appropriations Bills which are needed to fund much of the Federal Government beyond March 6, when the current Continuing Resolution expires. Only three FY 2009 Appropriations Bills were completed and signed into law in 2008 — Defense, Military Construction-VA and Homeland Security. Before Congress adjourned for the year, it passed a stop-gap Continuing Resolution to fund the rest of the Federal agencies in the nine remaining Appropriations Bills. The CR expires March 6.
In December, the Democratic Leadership asked the staffs of the Appropriations Subcommittees to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the nine remaining bills. That work was largely completed and an “Omnibus” bill was drafted incorporating the final version of the nine remaining bills. The Leadership indicated that they planned to pass the new Administration’s Economic Stimulus Bill first in the new Congress to demonstrate urgency. Once that bill was completed they indicated they would take up the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-MD, on Friday said Congress would “hopefully” complete The FY 2009 Omnibus bill before the President’s Day recess in February. Top House Appropriators said most of the work already has been done on the measure. Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii said he expected to meet with House leaders this week. “We have reached a resolution, and it’s just a matter of putting in the details,” he said.
Other sources in the Congress indicate that the timing on both bills may be slipping, bumping consideration of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill until March. There is no rush to do the Omnibus Appropriations Bills before the CR runs out on March 6. A March date raises the possibility that the Congressional leadership could conclude the Omnibus Bill is not worth considering since so much of FY 2009 would have passed. In that case the Congress would simply extend the March 6 date for the CR until September 30, the end of FY 2009.
If the preceding scenario were to happen, funding for much of the Government for all of FY 2009 would be extremely tight. Some relief might be provided by tacking on some special funding provisions to the CR. Another possibility might be an FY 2009 Supplemental. The new Administration is expected to submit an FY 2009 supplemental appropriations request for DOD in February or March. Congress might see fit to expand the DOD supplemental appropriations bill to cover urgent needs of other agencies that are not funded in the CR or in an Omnibus if it were to be enacted.