With Congress divided over nearly everything, the continuity of the government itself is uncertain.
A little more than a week after Congress returned from its summer recess, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) told Federal News Radio he holds little confidence Congress can pass appropriations bills by the time government funding runs out at the end of the month.
And political and policy fights surrounding funding for the Federal Aviation Administration do not bode well for the future, he added.
“I don’t think we’re going to have any appropriations bills done on time this year,” Moran said. “And, in fact, it’s conceivable we could have another threat of a government shutdown.”
He did acknowledge Congress may be more likely to pass a continuing resolution that would fund the government at last year’s level — especially given the high-profile work of the super committee, which is ongoing.
But Moran’s gloomy outlook didn’t end with the regular Congress. He said he thought the super committee would most likely deadlock and be unable to come up with a plan by its pre-Thanksgiving deadline.
“That’s probably what’s going to happen … I don’t think the six Republicans and six Democrats are going to be able to see any meeting of the minds,” he said.
If the panel is unable to agree on a plan, then across-the-board cuts — split evenly between defense and civilian spending — will be enacted.
The sequestration, as it’s called, will have a “substantial adverse impact” on DoD spending — to the tune of about $75 billion a year, Moran said. But it will also impact so-called “seed corn programs,” such research and development, education and infrastructure, he added.
“I think things are pretty bad right now when you look out into the immediate future … “I don’t see much bipartisan compromise,” he said. “I don’t see it.”
Moran noted the continuing fight over FAA funding, which expires Friday. Efforts at reauthorization have foundered because of disagreement about whether provide FAA workers with backpay for the two-week shutdown earlier this summer and, more recently, because of arcane Senate rules.
“If this is any indication of the confidence we can have in rationality prevailing on Capitol Hill, I’m afraid that it’s a very discouraging omen,” Moran said.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.