October 22, 2014

Continuing Trouble With 2015 Spending Plans

  • The federal budget process is a mixture of rules, timelines and norms that work together to influence policy decisions. It shapes how the...

With hope gone for completing the regular budget process this year, Speaker John Boehner said last week that the House would wait until September to take up a continuing resolution that would keep the government open after the end of that month.

A continuing resolution (CR) would essentially continue this year’s spending levels into Fiscal 2015 -- regardless of changing priorities, new developments or specific requests from federal agencies. It represents an abdication of lawmakers’ fundamental responsibility to carefully consider and reach agreement on 12 individual spending bills.

The August congressional recess actually runs through the first week of September, and the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1. So Boehner’s schedule doesn’t leave Congress much time to reach agreement on spending differences they have been debating all year.

The speaker also said the CR would likely extend only through early December, despite some Republicans’ hopes to leave final 2015 spending decisions to the next Congress.

As long as lawmakers rely on a continuing resolution, however, federal agencies cannot plan effectively, must spend money unnecessarily in some areas and leave legitimate needs unaddressed in others.