Appropriations Update: Senate Poised to Pass CR

Update 09-30-10: The Senate passed the CR last night on a 69-30 vote. The House soon followed with a successful 228-194 vote. An amendment from Senator John Thune (R-SD) to cut non-security spending by 5% failed on a 48-51 vote. An amendment from Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) to extend the CR until February 4 also failed, 39-60.

The Senate today invoked cloture on a stopgap measure to fund government operations when the new fiscal year begins October 1. The continuing resolution (CR) is needed because Congress has been unable to approve any FY 2011 appropriations bills so far.

The resolution will continue funding for most government programs at current levels through December 3. The bill contains some extra provisions that have bipartisan support, heeding the demands of many senators for a relatively “clean” CR with few add-ons, although the White House requested billions of dollars of additional funds in the measure. Some senators also called for the CR to be set at 2008 levels as opposed to the 2010 level, but that showdown apparently has been avoided for now. The desire of most members to return home to campaign seems to ensure a quick and lopsided vote to approve the CR.

Some additional items in the resolution include maintaining the maximum loan limits for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Federal Housing Authority loans in high-cost areas through September 30, 2011; allowing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to maintain the level of personnel currently in place; and enabling Federal Air Marshals to maintain the existing coverage level for international and domestic flights.

The 84-14 vote sets up a final vote possibly Wednesday, although some are pushing for a vote later this evening. The House is expected to quickly follow suit and then Congress will adjourn until after the mid-term elections.

Congress will address the spending bills and several other measures during a post-election lame duck session.