Election Year Appropriations Slipping

The Editors | Oct. 26, 2012, 6:42 p.m.

Even during election years, it used to be commonplace for Congress to finish its work on the following year's appropriations, if not before the Sept. 30 deadline than at least before the new Congress assumed power in January. Short-term continuing results often tided the government along until appropriations were wrapped up in the post-election lame duck session.

In two out the three last election cycles, however, the majority of annual spending bills were never completed, and scores of federal agencies were left operating through continuing resolutions for the entire budget year. In Fiscal 2009 (which began during the 2008 election cycle), Congress produced a package of new spending bills, known as an omnibus, but only after more than five months of the budget year already had lapsed.

If Congress ends its work on fiscal 2013 appropriations by enacting a full-year continuing resolution, extending last year's levels rather than enacting new bills, it will not be breaking with recent tradition.

For more details on which bills passed when, see our interactive post on delayed appropriations from earlier this year.

Read more at CQ.com: Without Resolution