The US House of Representatives has passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) valued at $982 billion to keep the federal government operational until 30 September 2013. An existing CR is scheduled to end on 27 March.
Attached to the CR is full approval of a $518.1 billion funding measure to finance Department of Defense spending for all of Fiscal Year 2013 (FY 2013). This amount represents $2 billion more than requested by the Obama administration.
Under the House bill, the Pentagon will enjoy greater flexibility in funding critical defense programs. The Senate version is expected to be presented for a vote sometime in the coming week.
The funding measure, drafted by the House Appropriations Committee, added the Pentagon spending bill to the CR as a means of giving the Pentagon some degree of autonomy in dealing with mandatory across-the-board spending cuts mandated under sequestration.
Under the House bill, the Pentagon will enjoy greater flexibility in funding critical defense programs. Additional funding was also authorized for those military accounts that are likely to suffer the most during sequestration, such as operations and maintenance.
A CR alone would have deprived the Defense Department of the degree of flexibility pro-defense legislators believe is needed to maintain national security. With a CR, federal agencies are strictly limited in their ability to realign funds between accounts and are not authorized to transfer money from a low-priority program to a critical-needs account that happens to be short of cash.
Several Congressional lawmakers, in both the House and the Senate, have proclaimed their displeasure that the Defense Department is receiving preferential treatment in dealing with the terms of the sequestration cuts. Despite the criticism, the White House has indicated that President Obama would not be inclined to veto the CR if the finalized bill is similar to the House bill.
While the House was voting in favor of the CR, the Senate Appropriations Committee was busy formulating its own version of the bill. The Senate version is expected to be presented for a vote sometime in the coming week. Once a Senate bill is approved, the two branches of Congress will then need to negotiate the details of a final form to be presented to the president for his signature.