FY 2014 Appropriations

After conservative Republicans rejected the short-term FY 2014 Continuing Resolution (H. J. Res. 59) introduced by House Republican leaders last week, the House must go back to square one this week and come up with another near-term funding solution, as a government shutdown looms in two weeks.

House conservatives rejected last week’s proposal because although it included a provision that would have defunded the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), that provision was non-binding. While the House bill would have forced a Senate vote (or filibuster) on the healthcare provision, the most likely end result was removal of the provision and enactment of a clean Continuing Resolution (CR). A number of alternative proposals surfaced at the end of last week, including one from the House Republican Study Committee that would delay Obamacare for one year and use those savings to offset the next round of sequestration. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called this proposal a non-starter in the Senate.

Meanwhile, House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced an alternative CR that would fund the government through November 15 at a non-sequester level of $1.058 trillion through a combination of spending cuts and tax break limitations. As with prior Democratic sequester replacement bills, this is not likely to advance in the House.

Debt ceiling

Last week, Congressional leaders began discussions on how to approach an increase in the nation’s borrowing authority, which is currently projected to be required by October 18. While both sides summarized the meeting using terms such as “respectful” and “constructive,” neither party is willing to budge from their philosophical differences. Republicans are pushing to incorporate broader deficit reduction and a final resolution of the FY 2014 budget with any debt ceiling agreement, while the President – who was not represented at the meeting – continues to advocate for an unconditional debt ceiling increase.