President Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration may sink the chances for fiscal year (FY) 2015 spending bills to be completed during the lame duck session of Congress. Some Republicans in the House of Representatives are considering ways to prevent the President from taking unilateral action to reform the nation’s immigration policies, including deferring action on pending appropriations bills.

The President recently announced his intentions to reform the immigration system by the end of the year through administrative actions, which would not require congressional approval.

In a closed door session late last week, House majority leaders did not endorse passing a comprehensive spending package, also known as an omnibus, nor did they signal an interest in moving another stop gap spending measure. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters that “all options” are on the table to block the President on immigration.

These latest developments contradict the optimism expressed after the election by congressional leaders of both parties to finalize federal spending for FY 2015 before January, when the new Congress will be sworn in.

The leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are continuing their work to negotiate a FY 2015 spending package. The fate of that bill may depend on the most conservative members of the House, who could force Speaker Boehner to pursue a short-term spending bill that expires early next year.

Meanwhile, nearly all stakeholder groups have been urging Congress to finish FY 2015 appropriations this year. The American Institute of Biological Sciences signed two letters addressed to Congress in support of an omnibus. A letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding stated “The 113th Congress has an important opportunity to continue its commitment to investing in America’s research enterprise by providing sustainable funding for NSF [National Science Foundation] in an FY 2015 Omnibus bill.”

One hundred thirty-three organizations signed another letter that urged Congress to “pass an omnibus FY 2015 appropriations bill this year that includes increased investments in scientific research and higher education needed to help close our nation’s innovation deficit.”

Despite the new fiscal year beginning on 1 October, no appropriations bills have been enacted. Congress reached a deal in September to fund agencies at FY 2014 spending levels through 11 December 2014.

 


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