A measure (HR-8337) to continue funding authority for federal agencies through December 11 was enacted at nearly the last minute Wednesday, avoiding a partial government shutdown that otherwise would have occurred and pushing off final decisions on a most budget-related issues until after the elections.
The measure for the most part extends spending authority at current with added funds for certain veterans, health care, nutrition and farm relief programs. It also authorizes agencies to spend at rates needed to prevent furloughs or layoffs of employees.
The bill was needed because Congress had made only partial progress on the 12 regular annual appropriations bills, with the House passing 10 of them but the Senate none. Passage of the “continuing resolution” leaves numerous decisions—including, for example, the 2021 federal employee pay raise—to a post-election session.
Meanwhile, hopes have revived of Congress enacting another substantial pandemic relief bill in the time just ahead. House Democratic leaders have offered a slimmed-down version of a bill the House previously passed but which the Senate set aside.
That bill, now in negotiations with the administration, would several provisions that had been in the earlier bill of special interest to federal employees. However, one of those—requiring that agencies meet certain standards before calling teleworkers back to the office—is advancing separately in the House and meanwhile has been introduced in the Senate.