Congress approved a continuing resolution this week to fund the government until December and then headed home to campaign for fall elections.
The continuing resolution, commonly known as a CR, will fund most of the government at FY2010 levels through Dec. 3. It passed the Senate by a 69 to 30 vote and the House by a 228 to 194 vote.
The list of items delayed until a lame duck session after the elections is long and includes priorities both divisive and thought to be largely bipartisan.
Items in the first category include the regular appropriations process, about which Republicans and Democrats have largely divergent views. None of the 12 appropriations bills were completed before the final day of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, which is unusual even in a period when CRs are common.
There are also questions and deep divisions surrounding what to do about a number of tax priorities, including extending existing tax structures and revising estate tax law to make it less onerous in coming years.
The latter category of more bipartisan measures is thought to include food safety legislation, which has been long-pending, and a bill to reauthorize childhood nutrition programs, which hit a snag when the two chambers couldn’t agree on spending offsets.
Other bills left hanging include a measure to ease trade and travel restrictions with Cuba (see next story); rail reform legislation; and a bill to remedy a complicated Environmental Protection Agency permitting requirement create by a 2009 Sixth Circuit Court decision – all top priorities for NAWG and many in the agricultural community.
The outcome of most of these policies will be largely determined by which party emerges victorious from the mid-term elections and if an extensive lame-duck session is scheduled by existing leadership. Congress is tentatively scheduled to return Nov. 15.