Members of Congress left plenty of unfinished business as they hustled out of town last weekend, but they did manage to boost spending through another half-baked legislative measure.
The fiscal year (FY) 2013 Continuing Resolution (CR), H.J. Res.117, now on the way to the President’s desk, funds the federal government for six months at an annualized rate of $1.047 trillion—an $8 billion increase. Thus another dose of spend-as-you-go from a Congress that has all but given up on serious budgeting.
The Heritage Foundation’s FY 2013 Appropriations Tracker has been updated to reflect the annualized spending amounts in the CR and compares the agreement to House and Senate versions of the 12 regular appropriations bills as well as an FY 2013 base level and the amounts spent in the pre-stimulus year of 2008.
Usually a CR spends at the same level as would result from continuing the previous year’s policies—in this case, $1.039 trillion. This CR’s additional spending, however, pushes the rate of spending to that consistent with the total spending level of $1.047 trillion provided in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
As Heritage’s Patrick Louis Knudsen writes:
That is $19 billion above the House budget resolution level ($1.028 trillion), but the Senate—which has not passed a budget in more than three years—insisted on this unnecessary spending hike.
Congress ignored a range of potential savings options. Knudsen offers examples such as Head Start ($8 billion), Job Training ($15 billion), and Community Development Block Grants ($3 billion). These are just a few federal programs that are ineffective, overlapping, or improperly targeted; their funding should be reduced or eliminated altogether.
While Congress managed to pass this stopgap spending bill before the start of the new fiscal year, it will have to take up a measure funding the government again in six months when the funding in this bill runs out. It has also failed to face the looming fiscal cliff, choosing to punt important decisions on Taxmageddon and the automatic budget sequestration into the lame-duck session after the election.
Repeated failures to budget according to the regular order erode Americans’ confidence that Congress has the ability to govern, much less act responsibly when so much is at stake.
Tracker updated as of September 25, 2012.