Continuing Resolution vs. Omnibus
Today the Senate voted 79-16 approving a continuing resolution to fund the government until March 4, 2011.
Erik Wasson writes in The Hill,
“The measure represents a major victory for Republicans who successfully forced Reid to abandon a plan to pass an omnibus 2011 appropriations bill late last week. The GOP now will have a chance to make deep cuts to 2011 spending starting in March if the resolution is enacted as expected. The omnibus, which wrapped all 12 appropriations bills into a 1,924-page measure, would have provided $19 billion in additional government funding compared to 2010 spending levels.”
The budget for FY 2011 was due on October 1, 2010. Without an official budget, Congress has passed three continuing resolutions (CR) to keep the government agencies running at FY 2010 funding levels from October 1 to December 21, 2010.
On December 8 the House passed H.R. 3082, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 — a CR that would fund U.S. government agencies through Sept. 30, 2011.
The Senate presented amendments to H.R. 3082 which allows for continuous normal operations through March 4, 2011 with funding continuing at FY2010 levels for most programs. In total, the CR would provide funding at a rate approximately $1.16 billion over the FY 2010 level. A summary of the amendments can be found at the Senate Appropriations Committee website.
What does this mean for science and astronomy?
Amy Svitak writes in Space News,
“Unlike the House bill, H.R. 3082, the Senate amendment does not weigh-in on NASA, which could mean the agency will be forced to operate in the coming months at spending rates proportional to the $18.72 appropriated for all of 2010. In addition, NASA would be prohibited from initiating new programs, and could be required to continue spending about $200 million per month on the Moon-bound Constellation program U.S. President Barack Obama sought to abandon in the $19 billion budget blueprint for 2011 that the White House sent lawmakers in February.
H.R. 3082, a continuing resolution that would fund U.S. government agencies through Sept. 30, provides an additional $186 million for NASA over 2010 levels and allows the agency to terminate Constellation and initiate new programs.”