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Continuing resolution will fund government through March 26

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A continuing resolution to keep the government funded through March 26 cleared Congress with a Sept. 22 Senate vote of 62-30 to approve the measure, which already gained House approval Sept. 13 on a 329-91 vote.

The bill (H.J.Res. 117), which President Obama is expected to sign, funds the government at a rate of $1.047 trillion, which is more than the House-approved fiscal 2013 topline of $1.028 trillion. The House Appropriations Committee notes that the $1.047 trillion rate figure includes an across-the-board rate increase of 0.6 percent to the base rate, but overall is $26.6 billion less than the current fiscal year level. Federal fiscal years begin each Oct. 1.

$1.047 trillion is also the fiscal 2013 statutory cap on discretionary spending placed on the federal government by the Budget Control Act. House Republican determination to pass spending bills pegged to the lower $1.028 trillion figure has led to appropriations bill veto threats from the White House and is a partial cause of Congress' inability to pass new spending bills by the Oct. 1 deadline.

Included in the continuing resolution is language that preserves a pay freeze for federal employees.

It also funds the disaster relief fund at the current year rate of $6.4 billion. The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses the fund to pay for matters such as debris removal following a disaster and for disaster recovery grants.

The Defense Department overseas contingency operations fund also gets $88.5 billion, the amount the administration requested for fiscal 2013. That fund pays for the war in Afghanistan.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also receives "the rate for operations necessary to maintain the planned launch schedules for the Joint Polar Satellite System and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system," notes the Congressional Research Service bill summary.

Federal agencies dislike operating under a continuing resolution since new efforts mostly can't be initiated and flexibility to change the funding of current efforts either upward or downward is limited.

The continuing resolution's expected passage into law does nothing to alleviate the specter of sequestration, which will become a Budget Control Act-required necessity in January unless Congress moves to undo it.

For more:
- go to the THOMAS page for H.J.Res. 117

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