A Continuing Resolution, Sequestration, and a Fiscal Cliff? What to Expect From Congress This Fall

Jennifer Sheridan, Director of Policy Development

Every year, it seems, Congress struggles to finalize spending bills to fund the federal government by the end of the fiscal year on September 30.  This year is no different.

To date, the House and Senate have yet to finalize any of the twelve appropriations bills that would fund the government in fiscal year (FY) 2013, which begins October 1, 2012.  Before leaving for the August recess, House and Senate leadership announced a deal to fund the government through a six-month continuing resolution (CR).  While Congress has not yet approved the CR, the bill will likely keep the government operating at FY 2012 spending levels until March 1, 2013.  It is expected that Congress will vote on the CR in September before going home to finish their campaigns.  This allows Congress to avoid a government shutdown near the November election and gives them time to tackle the large list of items that need to be completed by the end of year.

After the election, Congress will return to a full plate of issues that will need action during a post-election, or “lame duck” session, likely to start in mid-November. The to-do list includes a variety of tax and spending related items including the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts; expiration of the Social Security payroll tax cut; Medicare physician payment rate cuts, also known as the “Doc Fix;” and, sequestration – across-the-board spending cuts that total $1.2 trillion over 10 years that will start hitting most government programs on January 2, 2013. As you have no doubt read in the media, many are concerned that if Congress doesn't act, the economy will go over the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of higher taxes and deep spending cuts that could pose a threat to our economic recovery.

With the overwhelming number of issues on Congress’ plate this fall, it is critical that the Parkinson’s community continue to tell Congress to find a solution to sequestration’s devastating impact on biomedical research.  Whether it’s attending a town hall event during the August recess, a meeting in the district office, or the ever-critical call to the Washington, D.C. office this fall, we need your voice to ensure biomedical research remains a national priority and that we continue to make progress in the fight against Parkinson’s disease.

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