Stopgap Funding Plan Starts to Move

The House could vote as soon as this week on a temporary budget measure that generally would fund agencies until December 11 and prevent the type of partial government shutdown that occurred last year when the new fiscal year started October 1 with no spending authority in place. Prompt action is needed because Congress now hopes to recess starting the week after next through the elections, leaving little legislative working time. The bill generally funds operations at current levels but does add money for certain functions, including the continued IG probe of VA patient scheduling and treatment and continued efforts to reduce the disability benefit application backlog there, border security operations, and certain diplomatic and military missions. The measure is silent regarding a 2015 federal employee pay raise, another step in what has been a year-long strategy to allow a 1 percent increase to take effect by default in the absence of specific language. One potential complication when the measure reaches the Senate is a possible move there to add language barring the Postal Service from closing certain facilities; sponsors of a postal reform bill that has been years in the making oppose that idea, saying it would effectively kill that bill for this Congress and force the financially troubled USPS to cut costs in other ways, such as eliminating jobs, on its own.