Congress Kicks Budget Can Down The Road, But Funds Zika Work

As is all too common, the Congress managed to avoid its responsibility to pass a budget prior to the start of the new fiscal year (which is October 1).  Earlier this week, after much wrangling, the House and Senate agreed on a continuing resolution to fund the government until December 9.

What a continuing resolution means is that unless otherwise provided for in the resolution, the government will be funded at the same levels as the previous fiscal year.  Any programs that would get different funding levels in the new year (or would were set to start or finish in the new year) are in bureaucratic limbo.  While this is a new normal in this century, these resolutions complicate government operation because they make it much harder for agencies to plan for and do their work.  There’s simply no confidence that there will be the money for intended programs.

The continuing resolution includes $1.1 billion for dealing with the Zika virus.  It’s slightly more than half what the Obama Administration requested back in February.  During the seven months in which there was no new funding, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control Prevention had to do their work by ‘borrowing’ from funding designated for fighting other diseases.  There is no provision in the continuing resolution to restore those funds.

One stumbling block (out of several) on the way to this continuing resolution involved funding for addressing the water problems in Flint, Michigan.  While not included in this legislation, a deal is in place to address water infrastructure in separate legislation.  We’ll see if it actually ahppens.

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