Congress Punts Budget Decisions Until After the Election
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Congress Punts Budget Decisions Until After the Election

September 17, 2012

With an abbreviated session in September, Congress is focusing only on must-do items and delaying final decisions on key pieces of legislation until later this year.

Lawmakers are expected to meet for eight days at most this month before recessing again until after the November election. Here's a brief summary of what's on the agenda:

Federal Funding

The six-month continuing resolution (CR) agreed to in principle by Congressional leaders last month passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 329-91 and is expected to clear the Senate this week. The legislation funds discretionary programs from the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 through March 27.

While most programs are funded at current levels—which in an environment of budget-cutting is welcome news—the bill does provide a slight increase for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). This will allow CSFP to serve its current caseload in the midst of rising food prices. CSFP provides nutritional food packages to low-income Americans at risk of food insecurity, with more than 90% going to older adults.

Budget Sequester

Despite the CR, cuts are still on tap starting Jan. 2 when the sequester is scheduled to occur. These automatic, across-the-board reductions are mandated because Congress did not adopt a comprehensive deficit reduction package earlier this year.

The House has approved a measure to delay planned defense cuts only—leaving intact nondefense discretionary cuts affecting programs like the Older Americans Act (OAA).

The Administration released a report detailing how the sequester will impact federal funding for programs. Nondefense discretionary programs would see their funding cut by 8.2%, and nondefense mandatory programs would be cut by 7.6%. OAA and other Administration on Aging initiatives would see a total reduction of $122 million.

As chair of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, NCOA is serving on the NDD Summit, which is raising awareness about the impact of the sequester on nondefense discretionary programs (NDD) and calling for a balanced approach to deficit reduction. See how you can get involved in the NDD United campaign, including a national Call and Tweet Day on Sept. 20.



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