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Government shutdown on hold for now

Congressional negotiators will be burning the midnight oils over the weekend to craft a final bill.
Congressional negotiators will be burning the midnight oils over the weekend to craft a final bill.

A Friday government shutdown was averted as Congress today approved a five-day funding bill that will keep the government open through next Wednesday. The President is expected to sign the short-term Continuing Resolution (CR).

Congress remains mired in negotiations over a final omnibus spending bill to keep the government open for the remainder of the Fiscal Year. Congressional negotiators will continue to work furiously over the weekend to craft a final bill, address controversial policy issues, and possibly include extension of certain expiring tax provisions. If Congress is unable to reach agreement on a final deal, additional CR’s may be necessary although the threat of a government shutdown looms.

Congress passed a CR in late September which provided funding for all federal agencies, albeit at “frozen” FY15 levels, providing Congress and the White house additional time to finalize a bipartisan FY16 funding for the federal government. This CR expired on today, but the new CR will keep the government doors open through Wednesday.

In October, Congress passed a sweeping two-year budget agreement that provided additional funding for Federal agencies and extended the debt limit though the end of the Obama administration. This agreement provided an additional $50 billion for FY 16 and $30 billion for FY 17 to be equally divided between defense and non-defense discretionary program. The budget agreement also provided an additional $32 billion from the Overseas Contingency Fund, also divided between defense and non-defense programs.

The library community continues to weigh in on several key funding and policy issues. Final budget numbers have not yet been released. Of particular concern for libraries, include:

  • Net Neutrality Rider – ALA is opposing attempts to add a policy rider that would prohibit the FCC from implementing and enforcing its Open Internet Order. Last week ALA joined with The Association of Research Libraries and Educause in urging Congressional leaders to reject a net neutrality defunding rider:
  • Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Funding – While the President requested a healthy increase for LSTA, Congress provided a slight increase. The House Appropriations Committee bill provided $181.1 million while the Senate provided $181.8 million; LSTA received $180.1 million in FY 15.
  • Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) Funding – Funding for IAL in FY 15 was set at $15 million, with ½ dedicated to school libraries. Neither the President nor the House Appropriations Committee recommended funding for the program. The Senate did provide level funding for FY 16 at $25 million.

Congress is expected to release its Omnibus funding bill early next week which will outline agency funding levels and any policy riders.

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Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is the deputy director of government relations at the American Library Association’s Washington Office. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Before coming to the ALA in 2014, Kevin was the vice president of government affairs for the American Hotel and Lodging Association for 20 years.

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