Continuing Resolution Passes Funding for the Federal Government through the Elections

Published: September 29, 2016

Architecture Engineering and ConstructionBudgetDEFENSEInformation TechnologyInformation TechnologyVA

Congress agreed yesterday on a Continuing Resolution (CR) that keeps the federal government open through December 9, 2016 – after the November elections. The bill funds the federal government at the same rate as FY 2016, but includes full year appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs and Military Construction.

Key components of the legislation include:

  • Federal agencies are funded at current levels (same as FY 2016) through December 9
    • For base discretionary funding, an annualized rate of $1.067 trillion
    • For Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, an annualized rate of $74.096 billion
  • Full year appropriations for Military Construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • $1.1B in funding to prevent the spread of the Zika virus
  • $500M in grants to help states recover from recent floods
  • $37M to fight the spread of opioid abuse

For a bit more detail on the full year appropriation for the VA and Military Construction:

  • The total bill provides $82.3B in FY 2017 funding, up $2.5B from FY 2016 and $372 million below the President’s request
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
    • The appropriation includes $176.9B in both discretionary and mandatory funding, an increase of $14.2B vs. FY 2016
    • It increased funding for FY 2017 to $74.4B, which is 4.1% over FY 2016
    • The bill also included an additional $1.3B in medical care funding for a variety of medical care initiatives
    • Information Technology - $4.3B for IT systems and telecom support – a 3.5% increase over the $4.1B in funding received in FY 2016
    • VA Electronic Health Record - $260M for continued modernization of the VA electronic health record system
    • Disability Claim Processing - $180M for the paperless claims processing system, $143M for digital scanning of health records and $27M for centralized mail
    • Construction - $900M for major and minor construction
  • Military Construction
    • $7.72B for more than 200 military construction projects, however that is $445M below FY 2016 funding level and $282M below the President’s request
    • OCO funding in the Military Construction bill is $172M
    • Family Housing - $1.3B - $128M below FY16 levels
    • Medical Facilities - $349.8M
    • DOD Education Facilities - $272M
    • Guard and Reserve - $673M

As with all CRs, unless otherwise specifically noted, the government is prevented from "New Starts" or starting up new programs that were not funded in FY 2016. Specifically, it says no funds "shall be used to initiate or resume any project or activity" for which authority was not available during FY 2016.

For agencies and vendors, this provides a welcome avoidance of a government shutdown on Oct 1. However, the lame duck Congress will need to reconvene to sort through full year appropriations after the elections. Most political prognosticators still expect Congress to pass some form of omnibus appropriations funding government for the full year. The debate is over whether that omnibus will be passed during the lame duck Congress or the new Congress that takes over in 2017.

A copy of the legislation is linked to this article. Also attached is the Senate Appropriations Committees summary of the appropriations for the VA and Military Construction.