Congress Leaves Government on Idle

September 30, 2016

On fourth down and 2 (days before shutdown), Congress punted the appropriations football until Dec. 9.

The continuing resolution (CR) Hill and Administration leaders finally approved will keep the government operating past Sept. 30 and let legislators race home to campaign for re-election.

Getting to this 70-day extension deal wasn't easy.

Senate leaders wrangled the past two weeks over inclusion of funding for disaster aid and combating the Zika virus.

For most federal departments - including the Defense Department - the CR caps spending at current levels for the next two months. That's frustrating, because it prevents any new program starts.

It also means Congress must return for a “lame duck” session after the election to work out a new agreement to fund the government for the rest of FY 2017.

The VA got a better deal, as the CR included full VA funding for 2017 and advance funding for 2018. This will allow planned improvements in benefit claims processing and medical research. It also will let the VA cover in vitro fertilization for veterans with injuries causing infertility.

"MOAA is grateful this legislation will provide a $2 billion increase over the current year, with additional funding to address treatment of hepatitis C, long-term care for veterans, caregiver support, and reduction of the claims backlog," said MOAA President Lt Gen Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret).