Funding, Continuing Resolutions, and Government Shutdowns
I heard on the news that Congress hasn’t passed a budget yet and that something called a continuing resolution is paying our bills. Is this true and if so what does this mean for the CDC’s Environmental health budget? Does it get funded at lower levels? Will the government shutdown?
A Member from Iowa
Dear Iowa Environmental Health Professional:
Thanks so much for your note. You are correct - the one thing members of Congress and Senators must do every year passes a budget that the president signs before October 1, when the fiscal year ends. This is the money that keeps the federal government running and the money that the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health relies on to pay for all the work and programs they support.
You may remember the federal government shutdowns in years past, which were caused when Congress failed to reach such an agreement.
Sometimes they run out of time before they reach a deal, so they agree to pass what's called a Continuing Resolution. This keeps the government running at the previous year’s budget levels and gives Congress a new timeline for which to agree to a budget. Sometimes it is a couple of days; sometimes it’s a couple of months. When that time runs out, they need to either pass another budget or Continuing Resolution - or the federal government shuts down.
As this is an election year, there was a lot of interest in leaving Washington as quickly as possible without making hard decisions about what to fund before the elections. Thus, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution that will expire on December 9, 2016.
Therefore, after November 8th, they will return to the nation’s capital and based on the outcome, Congress and the president will make funding choices for federal programs (including money for environmental health programs like lead, water, air, etc.) or they will punt again and pass a continuing resolution and the let the new administration and the new Congress make these hard choices.
Through it all, I will be working hard to advance the environmental health workforce and to advocate for more funding environmental health programs. In addition, I promise to keep you updated on what’s happening and what it means to you, our members.
I truly appreciate your interest and intend to continue to answer these and any other questions NEHA members have each month. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for all that you do to keep us safe every day.