Cornerstone Report from Washington

Vol. 10, No. 5 – Sept. 29, 2012


President Signs Six-Month Continuing Resolution as New Fiscal Year Looms


President Obama has signed into law a temporary funding measure to keep federal departments and agencies operating past Sept. 30. This Continuing Resolution (CR) is necessary because Congress has not yet enacted any of the 12 regular F.Y. 2013 appropriations bills, including the Agriculture Appropriations bill which provides funding for USDA agencies such as the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).


The CR funds NIFA and other agencies for six months (from Oct. 1, 2012, to March 27, 2013) although the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have expressed their strong collective desire to pass the regular appropriations bills during the “lame duck” session which begins on Nov. 13.  The CR makes minimal changes to F.Y. 2012 spending levels, “except in cases that would cause catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental changes to government programs, and to ensure good government and program oversight.” (House Appropriations Committee news release.)


It is impossible, at this juncture, to predict what will happen next. The House and Senate have many crucial budget decisions to make in the coming weeks. (See the attached Bloomberg report on the “Fiscal Cliff,” which discusses the potential national economic risks if Congress and the President do not address the across-the-board federal budget cuts (sequestration) and tax increases that are scheduled to take place on or about Jan. 1, 2013.) We will, as always, keep you informed as events unfold on this important issue.

Farm Bill Outlook Also Uncertain

In addition to the unfinished appropriations situation described above, Congress also did not complete action on the 2012 Farm Bill prior to adjourning for the election. The Senate, as you recall, passed its version of the Farm Bill on June 22 and the House Agriculture Committee reported its bill on July 12. However, the full House has yet to take up the bill and it is not clear whether a regular Farm Bill will be enacted or the current law authorities merely extended. Again, we will be back in touch with you when we know more.


The Cornerstone Team