Lack of federal funding makes laws difficult to implement

A fight over money

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Speaking of paying, today the Senate passed a bill to pay the government's bills through early March. It's called a continuing resolution, which is a pretty good description of what it does. It continues funding federal agencies at the dollar amounts they had in 2010. Which is tricky, because when the funding for this year was set, there was no health care act or financial reform law on the books.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer reports from Washington.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: Congress passes laws, but federal agencies have to implement them. For sweeping overhauls, that takes serious cash.

Teddy Downey is a policy analyst at MF Global. He says agencies writing rules for financial reform won't have the money to hire more enforcement staff.

Teddy Downey: There will be, certainly, more room to get around the new rules, because of the lack of funding, lack of oversight.

There also won't be any funding for an exchange the law requires for trading derivatives. Height Analytics policy analyst Patrick Hughes says Wall Street will have plenty to say on the new rules. But the Commodity Futures Trading Commission doesn't have enough people right now to sift through all the comments.

Patrick Hughes: The question is whether the CFTC, without sufficient funding, will have the bandwidth to review those comments and incorporate worthwhile suggestions from industry.

Much of the health care overhaul doesn't take effect until 2014. So it doesn't need as much upfront money. But the Department of Health and Human Services still has to write rules. It's also short-staffed and will have a hard time taking in comments. That will lead to frustration, according to Deborah Chollet, a health policy analyst at Mathematica Policy Research.

Deborah Chollet: At the end of the day the insurance companies, the doctors, the hospitals, the patients, everyone would prefer a more orderly process.

Congress will take up the budget again next year. Republicans will be in charge of the House, so will have a lot more say in the process, and some want to cut long-term funding for the health care law.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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