What You Need to Know About Federal Government Continuing Budget Resolutions

What You Need to Know About Federal Government Continuing Budget Resolutions

As the start of a new fiscal year quickly approaches, Congress will likely need to pass a continuing budget resolution to avoid a government shutdown...

As the start of a new fiscal year quickly approaches, Congress will likely need to pass a continuing budget resolution to avoid a government shutdown. The often-used resolution will serve as a temporary stop-gap measure until lawmakers can pass the full FY2022 budget.

What Is a Continuing Budget Resolution?

The day-to-day activities of federal agencies are typically funded via annual appropriations provided in one or more of the usual appropriations acts. If a new appropriations bill isn’t approved by the time the old one expires, a funding gap will often arise that triggers impacted agencies to reduce their operations (commonly referred to as a “government shutdown”).

Congress must enact appropriation bills by the start of the fiscal year, which begins on October 1. If it is unable to do so, lawmakers can use a continuing resolution as a temporary measure to fund government activities for a specified period of time. The goal is to avoid a partial government shutdown and provide more time for Congress to pass appropriations bills for the full year. 

The duration of a continuing resolution will vary, with most lasting a few months. Its budgetary authority ends either upon enactment of the applicable regular appropriations bill or on an expiration date specified in the continuing resolution, whichever occurs first. 

How Common Are Continuing Budget Resolutions?

Continuing budget resolutions have been used frequently over the past two decades. In fact, the last time Congress enacted all 12 appropriations bills before the October 1 deadline was 1997. For fiscal years 1998 through 2021, Congress has enacted 124 continuing resolutions.

While often necessary to ensure the continuity of government operations, the growing reliance on continuing resolutions has come under fire. As highlighted by critics, failing to enact full-year funding can create uncertainty for government agencies and can distract lawmakers from other legislative priorities.

Will Congress Pass the FY 2022 Budget in Time?

To date, none of the 12 appropriation bills for FY 2022 have been enacted. Accordingly, it seems very likely that a containing resolution will be needed.

“With the end of the fiscal year rapidly approaching, it’s clear that Congress will need to pass a short term continuing resolution to provide more time for the fiscal 2022 process to unfold,” Shalanda Young, the Office of Management and Budget’s acting director, said in a recent blog post. “The window provided by a short-term CR will allow movement toward bipartisan agreement on smart, full-year appropriations bills that reinvest in core priorities, meet the needs of American families, businesses and communities and lay a strong foundation for the future.” The need to pass a continuing resolution will add to Congress’ already full plate. Other measures on the agenda this fall include the $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill, a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, and the annual defense authorization bill. Of course, even with a continuing budget resolution, lawmakers will also need to eventually agree on funding for the full FY2022.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Teddy Eynon, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.


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AboutEdward "Teddy" Eynon

Edward “Teddy” Eynon is Managing Partner of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Washington, D.C. office. Teddy regularly represents clients in numerous government-related matters, including public policy, energy and environment, budget, defense, healthcare, financial services, transportation & infrastructure, congressional investigations, and oversight issues.Full Biography

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What You Need to Know About Federal Government Continuing Budget Resolutions

What You Need to Know About Federal Government Continuing Budget Resolutions
Author: Edward "Teddy" Eynon

As the start of a new fiscal year quickly approaches, Congress will likely need to pass a continuing budget resolution to avoid a government shutdown. The often-used resolution will serve as a temporary stop-gap measure until lawmakers can pass the full FY2022 budget.

What Is a Continuing Budget Resolution?

The day-to-day activities of federal agencies are typically funded via annual appropriations provided in one or more of the usual appropriations acts. If a new appropriations bill isn’t approved by the time the old one expires, a funding gap will often arise that triggers impacted agencies to reduce their operations (commonly referred to as a “government shutdown”).

Congress must enact appropriation bills by the start of the fiscal year, which begins on October 1. If it is unable to do so, lawmakers can use a continuing resolution as a temporary measure to fund government activities for a specified period of time. The goal is to avoid a partial government shutdown and provide more time for Congress to pass appropriations bills for the full year. 

The duration of a continuing resolution will vary, with most lasting a few months. Its budgetary authority ends either upon enactment of the applicable regular appropriations bill or on an expiration date specified in the continuing resolution, whichever occurs first. 

How Common Are Continuing Budget Resolutions?

Continuing budget resolutions have been used frequently over the past two decades. In fact, the last time Congress enacted all 12 appropriations bills before the October 1 deadline was 1997. For fiscal years 1998 through 2021, Congress has enacted 124 continuing resolutions.

While often necessary to ensure the continuity of government operations, the growing reliance on continuing resolutions has come under fire. As highlighted by critics, failing to enact full-year funding can create uncertainty for government agencies and can distract lawmakers from other legislative priorities.

Will Congress Pass the FY 2022 Budget in Time?

To date, none of the 12 appropriation bills for FY 2022 have been enacted. Accordingly, it seems very likely that a containing resolution will be needed.

“With the end of the fiscal year rapidly approaching, it’s clear that Congress will need to pass a short term continuing resolution to provide more time for the fiscal 2022 process to unfold,” Shalanda Young, the Office of Management and Budget’s acting director, said in a recent blog post. “The window provided by a short-term CR will allow movement toward bipartisan agreement on smart, full-year appropriations bills that reinvest in core priorities, meet the needs of American families, businesses and communities and lay a strong foundation for the future.” The need to pass a continuing resolution will add to Congress’ already full plate. Other measures on the agenda this fall include the $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill, a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, and the annual defense authorization bill. Of course, even with a continuing budget resolution, lawmakers will also need to eventually agree on funding for the full FY2022.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Teddy Eynon, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.