Last week, Congress rushed to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) in order to keep the government’s operations from shutting down. Those who have followed our updates on the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget already know that both Appropriations Committees have finished their work on their respective slate of bills, and we are waiting for compromised legislation to be negotiated. Unfortunately, finishing out FY22 is not that simple.
The new deadline created by the current CR is February 18th. Originally, Congressional Democrats wanted the deadline to be in mid-January. However, Congressional Republicans successfully pushed for the later date, saying that they needed more time for negotiations, specifically to eliminate any “poison pill” policy provisions or keep in so called “legacy riders” (language that has been included in funding legislation for years). Unfortunately, this creates a situation where it’s hard to predict how the fiscal year will finally end.
If past is prologue, then another CR will likely be needed; Congress has a long to-do list for early next year and the FY22 budget is only one item. But it’s hard to say how long another CR will last. There are three possible scenarios:
- A short CR, as in a few days to a week, to iron out final details;
- If negotiations drag on, a CR of a month or more;
- If no compromise can be reached, the worst-case scenario is a full-year CR that goes to October 1st (the beginning of the next fiscal year, FY23).
Why would a full-year CR be so bad? Because research agencies would not have the legal authority to start new programs and their funding would be frozen at the previous year’s levels. While Congress could make exceptions in a year-long CR, such as to allow NSF to start new efforts in their proposed new TIP Directorate, it’s not likely they would want to open the metaphorical floodgates on such a process.
The bottom-line is that closing out Fiscal Year 2022 is uncertain at the moment. Hopefully the new year will bring a compromise between the two sides in Congress and the nation’s researchers can be spared the funding hardships that come with a full-year Continuing Resolution. Please check back for more updates.