Congress left town last week after passing the 6th Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY 2011 to keep the government funded. The law cuts approximately $6 billion in current year funding and expires on April 8, 2011. It includes a $200 million dollar cut to the Social Security Administrations administrative budget targeted to investments in upgrading their technology. The other reductions are based on proposals in the President’s Budget Request for FY 2012, including cuts to the Employment and Training Administration, the Health Resources and Service Administration and the Community Service Employment for Older Americans.
Passage of the CR gives House and Senate negotiators a few weeks to reach an agreement on the spending for the remainder of the year or face a government shutdown. Increasingly, Members of Congress are expressing dissatisfaction with the short term funding though finding agreement will be difficult. Conservative House Members want to include deeper cuts and restrictions on funding for health care reform and other policy initiatives that are not supported by the Senate leadership or the Administration. A bipartisan group of 64 Senators has called on President Obama to support a broad approach to comprehensive deficit reduction that includes entitlement reforms, tax reforms and other spending based on the work of the Fiscal Commission. Negotiations are expected to continue over the recess period to try and find common ground.