Congress Passes Another Short-Term Continuing Resolution

UPDATE (12/9/2016): The Senate voted on the Continuing Resolution (CR) on Friday, December 9, after the House passed the measure on Thursday, December 8. The CR was passed by the Senate 63-36. President Obama signed the bill early morning on Saturday. 

Congress Releases Another Short-Term Continuing Resolution

On Tuesday, December 6, the House Appropriations Committee introduced another short-term continuing resolution (CR) [H.R. 2028], which would prevent a government shutdown and continue funding federal government programs at its FY 2016 levels, until April 28, 2017.

The CR will be brought to the House of Representatives on Thursday, December 8 and is expected to pass. The Senate is then anticipating to take it up on Friday, December 9.

Photo: istock / penfold
Photo: istock / penfold

A Refresher

For those who recall, FY 2017’s appropriations discussions broke down back at the end of September, where they passed the first CR. At that point, Congressional Republican leadership eyed to finish the appropriations process through a mini-bus strategy in December, which would combine certain spending measures together, opposed to what we have seen in recent years where Congress passes an omnibus that combines all funding measures into a single bill.

With the conclusion of this year’s election, that strategy has now changed; Republicans will maintain their majority in both houses of Congress, and move to finish the appropriations process once the Trump administration has been fully established.

CR, H.R. 2028

If passed, here are some highlights on what this continuing resolution would entail:

  • Extends funding to government operations, programs, and agencies until April 28, 2017.
  • Maintains the current budget cap level of $1.07 trillion, which adheres to the Budget Control Act of 2011’s limits through an across-the-board cut of 0.19%.
  • $4.1 billion in emergency funding in response to recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Matthew and severe flooding in several states.
  • $872 million for the 21st Century Cures Act, a landmark medical and health research innovation bill, which is expected to pass and signed into law before the end of the year.
  • $170 million for the Flint Michigan Water Crisis.

What Does This Mean For Education Funding and ESSA?

For now, many of ESSA’s programs will be unaffected, as funds do not roll from the U.S. Department of Education to the States until the summer of 2017. However, if the appropriations process is not completed by the new April 28 deadline, Congress could look to pass another CR to finish out FY 17, which would complicate ESSA’s first year of implementation.

Because school districts are still adhering to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in FY 16, a CR, which would match FY 17 to FY 16’s funding levels, would reflect funding amounts designated for programs under NCLB, as opposed to ESSA. Doing so creates many ‘anomalies’ between the NCLB to ESSA transition, as many programs have either been consolidated, eliminated, or redone through the passage of ESSA. One of the biggest examples is Title IV, Part A block grant, which was created through consolidating more than 20 NCLB Title V programs.

For this reason, Congress will be crucial in deciding the effectiveness of ESSA within the first few months of the new year. Day in and out, NAfME continues to advocate Congress to complete a full appropriations process to ensure music education receives maximum benefit in ESSA’s first year of action.

Ronny Lau, Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, December 7, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (