With the current continuing resolution (CR) funding the government set to expire one week from today, Congress is running out of time to complete the 2012 appropriations process. In order for the House and Senate to have time to pass an omnibus spending bill before expiration of the CR, a bill will need to be introduced in the House by Monday. House and Senate negotiators met yesterday in a conference committee and discussions will continue over the weekend, but an agreement has not yet been reached on a number of controversial policy riders on issues ranging from the environment to abortion and health care.
If an agreement cannot be produce in time, Congress will need to pass another CR to prevent a shutdown, something both parties want to avoid. It is also possible that an agreement will include some but not all of the 9 remaining appropriations billsremaining to be bundled into the omnibus. Under this scenario, those agencies not funded under such a bill would be funded by a CR, essentially extending their 2011 funding levels for another year, possibly with some slight modifications. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which provides funding for most child welfare services, could very well be one of these agencies, as the Labor-HHS appropriations bill has proven to be one of the more difficult bills to negotiate.