ASC Public Policy Update

By Tom Branen

FY 2016 Appropriations

On September 30, Congress averted a government shutdown by passing a continuing resolution (CR) hours before the start of the FY16 federal fiscal year.

The short-term CR, which will fund the government until December 11, passed the House by a vote of 277-151 just before 5:00 p.m., after the Senate passed it 78-20 earlier that day.

The resolution provides Congress roughly two months to hammer out a longer budget agreement to fund the government through September 30, 2016.

OMB Continuing Resolution Guidance

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued guidance setting the rules under which federal agencies will operate during the recently enacted FY2016 CR (H.R. 719).  The CR period runs from October 1 through December 11, 2015.

Under guidance in a memo from Director Shaun Donovan, OMB will apportion (distribute funds to agencies to be available for obligation) funds automatically to appropriations accounts during the CR period, unless language in the CR provides for specific levels of funding or special rules.

The amount provided in the FY2016 CR is the “rate for operations provided in the applicable appropriations acts for fiscal year (FY) 2015 and under the authority and conditions provided in such Acts,” according to the OMB memo. The amount is net of any rescissions, plus or minus mandated transfers, and includes a 0.2108 percent reduction required in the CR (Section 101(b)).  However, funds designated for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism and disaster relief are excluded from the 0.2108 percent cut.

OMB calculates the automatic apportionment rate by multiplying the annualized amount by the percentage of the year covered in the CR.  In this case the automatic apportionment rate is 19.67 percent to cover the 72-day CR period.

Speaker of the House

House Speaker John Boehner, who faced a leadership battle from Conservative GOP Freedom Caucus members, announced on September 25 that he would resign at the end of October.

Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) is the leading contender to be the next Speaker of the House, but if he doesn’t run, there are about a dozen members considering throwing their hat in the ring.  If that happens, the outcome could be very unpredictable as the candidates maneuver for the 218 votes needed to be elected Speaker.

Rep. Bill Flores of Texas who chairs the Republican Study Committee, circulated a letter to his House GOP colleagues declaring he would run, if Paul Ryan did not.

If Ryan decides not to run, it may mean a long list of Republicans who might.  They include Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon and others.

Currently the only two Republicans to announce they are running are Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida.  Like Flores, Chaffetz has said he would drop out if Ryan declares his candidacy.

Ryan is at his home in Janesville, WI this week with his family deciding whether or not to run. He is seen by many of his colleagues as someone who can bridge the gap between mainstream conservatives in the House and the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative group that pressed for the ouster of House Speaker John Boehner and put up roadblocks to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s effort to replace him.

We don’t expect a decision from Ryan this week.

In the meantime, John Boehner will continue to serve as Speaker until the new Speaker is elected.  He wants to leave as scheduled at the end of October, but if Rep. Paul Ryan won’t agree to replace him, it may take a while for a consensus to form around an alternative, therefore, he may stay on for a while longer.


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