Stop-Gap Spending Bill Will Fund Federal Programs Through Dec. 16

Congress passed and President Obama signed another stop-gap spending bill -- known as a continuing resolution (CR) -- last week to keep the government funded through Dec. 16. The CR passed by a vote of 298-121 in the House and 70-30 in the Senate.

Federal agencies have been operating under a CR that expired on Nov. 18. Congress passed the CRs because it has been unable to agree to a fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget. Congress has passed parts of the FY 2012 budget, but has not passed the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education spending bill that sets funding levels for the federal student aid programs.

The failure and dismantling of the deficit reduction "super committee" will likely make the FY 2012 budget process the center of spending debates in Congress.  Congress will have to finalize the 2012 budget by Dec. 16, or pass another CR in order to keep federal programs funded.

Congress must negotiate significant differences to pass the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill. Some of the obstacles for this bill include:

  • the House and Senate have been allocated different overall spending levels for this bill
  • House and Senate versions of this bill maintain the $5,550 maximum Pell Grant, but they use different methods to cover Pell funding shortfalls
  • the Labor-HHS-Education bill contains funding associated with the Affordable Care Act (last year’s healthcare law), which many Republicans seek to repeal.
More information about the FY 2012 budget is available in NASFAA's budget center.