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Congress nears stop-gap spending measure

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R) walks with Sen. Roy Blount (R-MO) (L) to a vote on the Senate floor April 16, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Stacey Vanek Smith: The House of Representatives could vote as soon as tomorrow on legislation to fund the government for the next six months and avoid a shutdown. That temporary funding would keep the government going. But would mean some uncertainty for federal agencies.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports.


Nancy Marshall–Genzer: Congress is supposed to pass spending bills for all federal agencies, but lawmakers never did that this year. Stop-gap funding is especially hard for agencies that have to plan way ahead, like the Pentagon.

Todd Harrison is a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He says, since the government’s budget will essentially stay the same for the next six months, the Defense Department can’t change its spending.  Even on old programs.

Todd Harrision: When you’ve got a program that was at the end of its life, you’re done buying something. You are stuck with buying it.

You can’t start spending on anything new, either.  So a scheduled overhaul of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln will have to wait. As will planned purchases of new aircraft. Over at the Agriculture Department, there’s no extra drought aid for farmers.

Richard Kogan is a budget analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Richard Kogan: I don’t think this was designed as a deliberate slap at farmers.

Kogan says the stop-gap funding bill does give Congress some flexibility, and it can pass a separate drought relief bill.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.
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