Lawmakers’ Deal Sets Stage for April Budget Bill

Published January 22, 2017

Lawmakers’ last-minute approval of a bill appropriating temporary federal government spending will delay federal budget battles until April 2017.

In December 2016, congressional lawmakers approved a short-term continuing resolution (CR) setting aside taxpayer funding for government agencies and programs to last until April 28, 2017, after which a full federal budget bill will be required to fund the federal government.

The continuing resolution authorizes spending $1.07 trillion of taxpayers’ money, reducing spending on national defense by $3 billion to offset increases in domestic government programs’ funding.

New Spending

Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, a nonpartisan organization calling for balanced government budgets and spending reductions, says although continuing resolutions can theoretically help restrain government spending, they typically fail to do so.

“In terms of the latest continuing resolution, on some level, fiscal conservatives kind of like CRs, because they theoretically continue spending at the current rate, rather than agreeing to increases,” Bydlak said. “Unfortunately, all the things that were added to the CR represent increased spending. You had a lot of ‘sweeteners,’ keeping base funding constant but adding all this additional spending on top of it.”

More Leverage in 2017

Justin Bogie, a senior policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation and a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team, says the 2017 budget deadline allows Trump to leave his mark on federal spending policies.

“I think that it’s very probable that the new administration will have conversations with leadership about the funding level for the rest of 2017,” Bogie said. “Assuming that an Obamacare repeal stays on track, then you might see attempts to cut off some of that funding, where possible.”

Bogie says Trump will have influence over deal-sweeteners and other additions to the 2017 federal budget bill.

“The bigger influence will probably be in terms of policy riders and determining what the new administration would like to do from that standpoint,” Bogie said.