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Republican leaders plan to pass a short-term funding bill this week to extend by three days the deadline for wrapping up a massive, $1 trillion-plus catch-all spending bill covering funding for the rest of the year. The short-term measure would give lawmakers until midnight next Saturday to pass the larger funding bill. The current stopgap funding bill expires at midnight on Wednesday.
The bipartisan budget deal announced this week goes a long way toward clearing up the widespread budget uncertainty that has plagued federal agencies for the last two years. But it doesn't actually set individual agency funding for next year. That's the job of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the leaders of whom now must write an official spending bill that spell out exactly how much each agency gets to spend next year and on what. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the chairman of the House committee, said Thursday he would begin work on an omnibus spending bill to fund agencies next year.
For the first time since the government shutdown ended two weeks ago, House and Senate lawmakers are sitting down at the table to negotiate about the fiscal 2014 budget. At the top of the agenda will be what to do about the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration that have ensnared what remained of the traditional budget process this year. However, budget experts and insiders say sequestration is likely to stick around -- at least in some form -- and about the best agencies can hope for is a small-bore deal that grants them some greater flexibility in implementing the cuts, these experts said.
Lawmakers in districts with large constituencies of federal employees are signaling their support for the bipartisan budget deal announced Tuesday even though it would require new federal workers to contribute a greater share of their paychecks to their retirement benefits. The alternatives -- another government shutdown or a second year of the steep across-the-board sequestration cuts -- would have been worse, they argue.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), are jumpstarting a new effort to get both sides of the Capitol dome on board with a bill to make it easier for agencies to hang the "For Sale" sign outside their doors. Carper, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chaffetz, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, hosted a Capitol Hill roundtable with private-sector real-estate experts and former government officials Wednesday to discuss a new legislative path forward.
Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) introduced a bill Tuesday to cancel sequestration for the Defense Department for two years. The bill would offset this change by using a chained CPI to calculate COLAs for federal retirement programs along with other entitlement reforms.