GM 19-016

House and Senate Approve FY 2020 Continuing Resolution through December 20; President Expected to Sign the Bill

The House and Senate have approved a second FY 2020 Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through December 20, 2019, at largely FY 2019 terms and spending levels. As a procedural matter, Congress used HR 3055, a bill previously passed by the House, and then substituted the text of the CR into it. HR 3055, as amended, is now entitled the “Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2020, and Further Health Extenders Act of 2019”. The White House has indicated that the President “remains on track” to sign the bill. The first FY 2020 CR (HR 4378, PL 116-59) expires at midnight tonight. (See our General Memorandum 19-012 of September 26, 2019.)

As of this writing, none of the twelve FY 2020 appropriations bills have been enacted; however, some progress on negotiating these 12 bills has been possible because of the enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (HR 3877, PL 116-37) which raised the overall spending caps for FYs 2020 and 2021. (See our General Memorandum 19-010 of July 26, 2019.) Still at issue is the division of this funding among the twelve spending bills (called “302(b) allocations”) and the question of funding for the wall on our nation’s southern border.

It has unfortunately become the norm that federal agencies are funded for periods of time for under CRs, limiting their ability to plan and wasting time on the constant reallocation of funds. Tribes and tribal organizations are directly affected in the same manner and as a result, are asking Congress to pass legislation authorizing advance appropriations for certain core tribal programs.

In addition to the CR, the following “anomalies” are included in HR 3055:
• Extension of funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, Community Health Centers Fund, National Health Service Corps, and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program through December 20, 2019;
• Extension of funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) and the Health Profession Opportunity Grant demonstration program through December 20, 2109;
• Extension through December 20, 2019, of the Alaska moratorium provision that, with some exceptions, prohibits IHS from contracting directly under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) with any tribe that is a member of a regional tribal health organization;
• The bill also addresses in the Indian Health Service budget the staffing and operation needs for facilities that were opened, renovated or expanded in FYs 2019 and 2020, providing $26,574,167 in the Services account and $1,209,111 in the Facilities account. In the Administration’s request for anomalies for the CR they listed the Cherokee Nation Regional Health Center and the Northern California Youth Regional Treatment Center as the facilities to receive these funds; and
• The Census Bureau will be able to increase its rate of spending in preparation for the 2020 Census.

As is common in CRs, the funds will not be distributed for programs that may have high initial rates of operation or for funds which are fully distributed at the beginning of the fiscal year. This is because of the possibility that Congress might eliminate or reduce funding for those particular programs in a final appropriations bill. The CR directs agencies to use the most limited funding action permitted in the Act in order to provide for continuation of projects and activities. Agencies will be allowed to apportion funds in a manner that would avoid furloughing employees.

Attached is a section- by-section summary of the CR as prepared by the House Appropriations Committee.

We will continue to follow developments on FY 2020 appropriations.