Congress recently acted to extend funding for the federal government until December 20th at a flat rate from last fiscal year; this was the second continuing resolution (“CR”) of this new fiscal year. While this amounts to a time-buying exercise that averts a government shutdown, it does little to advance the work of funding the government for Fiscal Year 2020. However, Congress has also recently made concrete progress: on November 24th, leadership agreed to exactly how much each department will be allowed to spend, a process referred to as 302(b) allocations.
Agreeing to 302(b) allocations allows the House and Senate to work towards a final funding level for each of the programs within a Department. Both chambers had previously passed a version of a bill that funds the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but without these 302(b)’s the House and Senate were working with different sets of figures. Now that they have an agreed-to topline number to work from, they should make faster progress.
While much of the funding process is tied up in unrelated political issues, Congress-watchers anticipate that if any funding bills are signed into law before the December 20th deadline, the USDA and HUD bills are likely to be included. Fahe continues to have conversations with Congress that highlight federal investments which make real impacts in Appalachia, and to advocate for increasing the funding levels of those investments.