The next great budget battle between Democrats and Republicans has been resolved without waiting until the very last minute as the current legislators have done twice already this year. According to Reuters on March 20, the Senate approved legislation to keep the government funded through the end of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The bill must now go before the House on Thursday for final approval.
Without approval of this new spending legislation, many government programs and agencies would have faced shutdown on March 27. Assuming he House approves the bill, which is expected, the next budget battle will be in late July or early August, when approval will be required again to raise the federal borrowing limit.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers called the bill “a great success," and applauded the effort as a "healthy start" toward returning to a normal, bipartisan budgeting process.
The measure, approved by a 73 (Democrat) to 26 (Republican) vote, maintains the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that is referred to as “sequestration”, but offers some flexibility in the distribution of the cuts from the harsh restrictions of the sequestration mandates.
The Senate vote was not a slam dunk. Many of the Senators tried to attach provisions to protect their own pet projects and constituents. One proposal that was approved shifts $55 million in Department of Agriculture money to prevent the agency from laying off meat inspectors. One proposal that was not approved would have moving national park money to keep White House tours open.
Democrats and Republicans may have come together long enough to avoid falling off the cliff this month, but they have such significant differences of opinions in how the federal budget should be structured, that one wonders how close they will come to the edge when the next deadline looms this summer.