Budget and Appropriations Status
Budget and Appropriations
Avoiding a government shutdown by hours, on December 9, 2016, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at FY16 levels through April 28, 2017. Ideally, there would be an omnibus spending bill for the remainder of FY17, which would allow the appropriators to provide increased funding for NIH and other accounts as negotiated by the committees during the course of the appropriations process. However, no precedent exists for passing a CR with only six months left in the fiscal year. The CR that passed in December did contain an anomaly for the National Institutes of Health, providing $300 million for the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot, authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act.
Budget Reconciliation and Proposed Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Because an omnibus spending bill has not yet been passed for FY17, Congress used the FY17 budget resolution as a reconciliation measure. The reconciliation process is a vehicle that can only be used once in a fiscal year. It allows for expedited consideration of certain tax, spending, and debt limit legislation. Reconciliation establishes the mechanism by which Congress can move controversial budget-related legislation without it being subject to a filibuster in the Senate.
For reconciliation measures to even be taken up by the House or Senate, a budget resolution must be agreed to by both chambers, and must include instructions to committees to achieve specific budget outcomes through legislation. The new FY17 budget resolution is a reconciliation measure serving as a vehicle to set up the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care.
The FY17 budget reconciliation resolution instructed the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees and the Senate Finance and HELP Committees to produce legislation that achieves at least $1 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years and to report their proposals to the Budget Committees by January 27. The Committees have missed this deadline; though previous reconciliation bills have proceeded even when committees submitted their proposals beyond the deadline.
Republicans plan to use the budget reconciliation process again when they submit their FY18 budget resolution. This time, the GOP will begin to lay the groundwork for moving a sweeping plan for tax reform.