Just before a midnight deadline Congress passed a stopgap funding bill and sent it to President George W. Bush for his signature. The bill passed the House by a 320-70 vote while the Senate backed it by unanimous consent.
Because Congress only passed two of the thirteen appropriations bills by the end of the 2006 Fiscal Year a continuing resolution was required to keep the U.S. government running. That resolution expired at midnight thus the rush to pass a replacement resolution.
Programs of interest to the colon and rectal cancer community are in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill. Since this bill did not pass programs are funded at the level in the FY 2006 bill which means level funding continues.
I happened to pass by C-Span and noticed the House was considering House Joint Resolution (H. J. Res.) 102 which is the official name of this latest stopgap bill. I watched as Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), House Appropriations Chair, and Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), House Appropriations Ranking Member, spoke on the House floor about the bill.
From what was said on both sides of the aisle I have to agree with was Reuters said in its report: ”Both Republicans and Democrats in the House complained about having to pass the stopgap spending bill
According to the article Rep. Lewis “put blame ‘squarely…at the feet’ of retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, saying he had failed to move the spending bills through the Senate.” It also reported that Rep. Obey, the next chair of the House Appropriations Committee, ”called the temporary spending bill ‘a blatant admission of abject failure by the most useless Congress in modern times.’”
My sense is that both sides in the House tried to get all the spending bills passed and to the President before the end of the fiscal year. Rep. Obey said that Congress did not fulfill its responsibility in the process.
I am as upset about this as they are. Delay after delay then a big rush to get things done before close of business. I’d even go so far to say I agree with The Associated Press report which said this Congress “dumped an unfinished budget” on the next Congress.
What next? First off this muddies the waters for the President’s fiscal 2008 budget proposal which will be sent to Congress early next year as this year’s leftovers will delay things next year. To sped things up the remaining bills could be combined into an omnibus bill. Each bill could be reconsidered but it would more than likely be without major changes given the time constraints. It could be something else.
No matter what happens constituents affected by colon and rectal cancer need to keep reminding their Members of Congress to make cancer funding a priority.
Click here to read the Reuters article.