House Appropriations Committee Introduces CR That Is 'Free of Controversial Riders'

September 11, 2013 - 7:14 AM

boehner

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, walks to join GOP House members for a caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday introduced a short-term continuing resolution that would maintain funding for government programs and services -- including Obamacare -- at current levels until December 15, 2013.

“The Continuing Resolution introduced today is simply a temporary measure to keep the lights on in government until this Congress can fulfill its duty by approving Appropriations bills for the next fiscal year," Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement.

Rogers declared the bill to be "free of controversial riders," an apparent reference to conservative calls to defund the Democrats' health care law. "This bill is free of controversial riders, maintains current funding levels, and does not seek to change existing federal policies," Rogers said.

Conservative Republicans say the last chance to stop Obamacare is through a must-pass continuing resolution that funds all government operations, except for the Affordable Care Act.

Although Senate Democrats would force a government shutdown rather than go along with such a measure, conservatives insist that a government shutdown is not their goal.

On Tuesday, House Republican leaders discussed their plan to defund Obamacare, a plan that conservatives -- who held a rally nearby -- called deceptive.

House Speaker John Boehner indicated his strategy would force the Democrat-led Senate to vote on a defunding measure that can be separated from the continuing resolution. "Let's get the issue over there and force them to actually have a vote on getting rid of Obamacare," Boehner said at a Tuesday news conference.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the House will vote on a continuing resolution this week. "And along with that vote, we will send to the Senate a provision which says up or down, are you for defunding Obamacare or not?"

The House plans to pass a CR, along with a concurrent resolution amending it to include defunding language. That way, House Republicans can say they voted to defund Obamacare in the CR. But the resolution amending the CR could be dropped by the Senate.

Conservatives say House Republican leaders are trying to fool the public by giving only lip service to defunding Obamacare.

'CR necessary to stop a government-wide shutdown'

Rep. Rogers admitted on Tuesday that using continuing resolutions in place of regular appropriations bills is not the "preferred way" of doing the nations' financial work.

“This Congress can and should be passing regular Appropriations bills that reflect the country’s changing fiscal needs and realities. However, given the late date, a Continuing Resolution is necessary to stop a government-wide shut down that would halt critical government programs and services, destabilize our economy, and put the safety and well-being of our citizens at risk."

Rogers said the country "desperately" needs a long-term budget solution that ends sequestration. "It is my hope that this stopgap legislation will provide time for all sides to come together to reach this essential goal," he concluded.

According to the Appropriations Committee, H.J. Res. 59 extends funding for operations for all federal agencies, programs and services until December 15, 2013. The bill provides funding at a rate of $986.3 billion – slightly below the current, post-sequestration level.

However, the CR includes some changes to current law "to prevent catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental impacts on government programs, or to ensure good government and program oversight."

Those provisions include:

--  funding flexibility for Customs and Border Protection to maintain current staffing levels and border security operations, and to sustain Immigration and Customs Enforcement staffing and immigration activities;

-- additional funding for the Department of Interior and the Forest Service for wildfire suppression efforts;

-- additional funding for the Veterans Benefits Administration for disability claims processing;

--- continuing funding for pandemic flu preparedness and chemical or biological attack response efforts;

-- funding flexibility to maintain weather satellite programs, ensuring the continuation of data for weather warnings and forecasts, including forecasts of severe weather events.