WASHINGTON—The Senate passed a continuing resolution by a vote of 62-30 in the early hours of Saturday, clearing the way for Congress to return home for the election campaign season. Congress is expected to return to Washington after the election for a short “lame duck” session in December.
The resolution (H J Res 117) avoids a government shutdown on October 1, 2012, by funding federal departments and agencies for six months through March 2013.
The passage of the continuing resolution reflects the $1.047 trillion cap set for discretionary spending put forth in the 2011 debt limit law and increases spending for most programs and agencies by about 0.6 percent.
The continuing resolution continues the current pay freeze for federal employees, and extends the authorization for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and Veterans Administration disability claims.
The staffing and operations of new Indian Health Service facilities will be affected by the requirement that each agency submit spending plans to Congress, as the need increases each year.
Congress will likely revisit these plans after the November elections or when the new Congress convenes in January 2013.
Still on the table is the looming automatic sequestration set to take effect early next year. Informal negotiations continue to avert the automatic cuts.
Senators have been meeting to discuss various proposals for replacing the sequester created by last year’s deficit reduction and debt ceiling law.
Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., remained hopeful that a deal could be brokered during the lame duck session after the elections stating, “I do not believe that we will go over the fiscal cliff.”