Work on the Agriculture Appropriations bill has stalled in both the House and the Senate. The Senate version of the bill was one of three bills brought to the Senate floor for debate and amendment last week, but the majority and minority could not reach an agreement on how to move forward with amendments.
Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to require a 60-vote threshold for passage of amendments, and Republicans opposed this requirement. Staff are meeting behind the scenes this week to work towards agreement. Two weeks ago, the House debated their version of the bill, but debate was interrupted by the shake-up in House Republican Leadership when Majority Leader Cantor announced his resignation after his primary defeat. While appropriators originally intended to complete all bills before the July 4th recess, it is unclear if and when the House and Senate will resume debate on the Agriculture Appropriations bill.
This puts funding for federal programs in increasing jeopardy and at risk of being packaged as part of a continuing resolution (CR). As the legislative window narrows and legislative time slips away between now and the close of the fiscal year, without passage of funding bills, the greater the likelihood of a CR.
Indeed, there are some in Congress who would welcome a CR particularly if the mid-term elections restructure the current balance between the House and the Senate. With a rebalance, fiscal conservatives will likely seek to radically restructure program funding for both domestic discretionary and entitlement programs.