Senate gets new stopgap measure
WASHINGTON — Congress is rushing to pass a bill known as a “continuing resolution” that authorizes spending to prevent the government from running out of money for daily operations. “We need to act as quickly as possible,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday.
The budget year began Oct. 1 but Congress hasn’t passed any of its annual spending bills.
Last Thursday, Democrats pulled back a $1.3 trillion spending bill for the entire budget year after Republicans decided not to support it. Republicans complained about special projects in the bill, its overall cost and the lack of time for debate.
The new stopgap measure up today in the Senate would increase federal spending at an annual rate of just $1.16 billion over the previous budget year, an increase of less than 1 percent.
It would also allow the incoming Congress, with a new Republican majority in the House, to put its stamp on federal spending shortly after the new session begins in January.
Three weeks ago, President Barack Obama proposed a two-year salary freeze for some 2 million federal workers, seizing on an initiative popular among Republicans. Public employee unions are lobbying lawmakers to reject the pay freeze.
“Freezing wages over the next two years will not serve the interests of the taxpayer and will cost us more in reduced services and lost talent from those who choose to retire, just when the government needs them more than ever,” Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, wrote in a letter to lawmakers.