Members of Congress have quite a bit of work left to accomplish before they adjourn. To date, only two appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2007 have been passed. President Bush signed The Department of Defense spending bill (H.R. 5631) into law on 29 September and the Department of Homeland Security measure (H.R. 5441) on 4 October.
Two continuing resolutions (CR) have been passed to fund the federal agencies not included in Homeland and Defense appropriation bills. The first CR was passed prior to Congress' recess for the mid-term elections, and funded agencies through 17 November. The current CR will expire on 8 December.
Talk in Washington, DC suggests that the third CR will be approved by the end of the week and will extend into February 2007, when Democrats take control of the new 110th Congress. Current speculation suggests that appropriators are hoping to fund the government through mid-February at the lowest funding level of either the House-passed bill or the current fiscal year funding level.
Because appropriations bills cannot be carried forward into the new Congress, earmarks included in the remaining appropriations bills will become obsolete in January. Federal agencies and programs funded under the continuing resolution will continue to operate, however civilian pay raises have been delayed and many programs remain in limbo until funding is approved in the 110th Congress.
On the Senate agenda for December is quick confirmation of President Bush's nominee for Secretary of Defense. President Bush nominated Robert Gates on 8 November 8, following Rumsfeld's resignation
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