Discretionary Spending and the CR

Fiscal year 2015 will end on September 30, 2015.  To date, the House has passed 6 of the 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal year 2016 (Commerce Justice Science, Defense, Energy & Water, Legislative Branch, Military Construction & Veterans Affairs, Transportation Housing & Urban Development); the remaining bills have been reported by the House Appropriations Committee.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has reported 12 appropriations bills, but none has been passed by the full Senate.  If appropriations bills are not enacted by September 30, Congress may pass a continuing resolution or “CR” to keep discretionary programs operating when the new fiscal year begins on October 1, 2015.

What is a Continuing Resolution?

A CR is legislation that keeps annual discretionary programs operating beyond the end of the fiscal year.  It provides funding—usually at the same level as the previous year’s enacted amount—for a limited amount of time, and typically keeps current policy in place, although anomalies or “riders” are possible.

Discretionary Spending since 2008

Discretionary spending in FY15 is $76 billion below 2008 levels and $176 billion below 2010 levels.  The FY2016 budget proposed base discretionary spending consistent with the Budget Control Act caps as shown in Table 1 below.

discretionary appropriations chart