Senate and House Congressional leadership have announced a six-month deal to keep the federal government functioning from October, 2011 to March, 2012. This agreement allows Congress to focus on other pending fiscal issues and avoid any threat of a government shutdown just before the November elections.
Both chambers will vote on the stopgap measure, also known as a continuing resolution, in September. The bill will use the $1.047 trillion discretionary spending limit agreed to in last year’s deficit reduction law. Details are not yet known about specific funding levels for each federal agency, and may not be known until September. Traditionally, continuing resolutions simply extend current funding levels, but in this instance, Congressional leaders many decide to alter some programmatic funding levels.
While this agreement funds federal programs into the next fiscal year, the eight percent across-the-board cuts known as sequestration (also a result of the same deficit reduction law), still loom over federal education programs. Regardless of the funding amount for education included in the continuing resolution, separate legislation will need to be signed into law to reduce the impact of sequestration on education. Sequestration is estimated to cut $4 billion in education spending beginning January 2, 2012.