Train Wreck Postponed for Six Weeks

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Publication date: 
29 September 1995

It only took the House of Representatives 34 minutes yesterday to
agree to a stopgap funding bill that will avoid this Sunday's
scheduled train wreck between the Congress and the Administration
over spending for fiscal year 1996.  Under this continuing
resolution six weeks of additional funding will be provided to keep
the federal government from closing down when the new fiscal year
starts on October 1. 

This resolution, which should be taken up the Senate today or
tomorrow, will fund government operations until November 13.  The
impact that it will have on agencies differs according to where
that agency's budget is in the appropriations process.  For those
agencies or departments where both the House and Senate have passed
an appropriations bill, program funding would be midway between
both levels, less five percent.  (This would be the case for the
Department of Energy, NSF, and NASA, and perhaps the Department of
Commerce if the Senate finishes work on its appropriations bill
today.)  If only one chamber has passed its version of an
appropriations bill, the new level will be the lower of either that
amount or its current year budget.  In some cases, the
administration will be allowed to spend at a rate of 90 percent of
the current budget if the level otherwise set by the above formulas
would result in a "significantly reduced" program.

Only two appropriations bills have cleared Congress and been sent
to the President: the legislative branch appropriation and that for
military construction.  Here is a brief run-down on the status of
other appropriations bill followed by FYI:

ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT:  Latest information indicates that
the House and Senate conferees have not agreed on a final version
of H.R. 1905, which funds the physics-related programs of the
Department of Energy.

VA, HUD, INDEPENDENT AGENCIES:  The Senate finished on Wednesday
its consideration of H.R. 2099, which funds NSF and NASA.  Senator
Dale Bumpers (D-Arkansas) offered an amendment to terminate the
space station, which was rejected by a vote of 35-64.  This was
Bumpers' sixth annual attempt to terminate the station.  Earlier
this year the House voted against a similar amendment.  For the
record, last year's Senate vote against the station was 36-64.  No
changes were apparently made by the full Senate from the
appropriations committee recommendations for NSF and NASA (see FYIs
#127 and 128.)  This bill, which as it now stands is almost certain
to be vetoed, now goes to a House/Senate conference.

COMMERCE, JUSTICE, STATE:  H.R. 2076 has been passed by the House,
and is now under consideration by the Senate.

OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT:  The stop-gap funding bill has no
effect on OTA.  OTA is closing today, with only enough money being
provided for severance pay allowing a few remaining projects to be