House working on bill to keep government open

House working on bill to keep government open

With the federal government scheduled to shut down on Nov. 20, the House Appropriations Committee is constructing a new continuing resolution to keep nine agencies running until lawmakers pass the remaining spending bills.

The length of the continuing resolution still is under debate, but it will not be for the remaining 10 months of fiscal 2005, said John Scofield, the committee spokesman.

Office of Management and Budget director Joshua B. Bolten said in a letter to the House and Senate appropriations committee chairmen that the administration would support a full year continuing resolution.

'While this mechanism is far from ideal, such legislation would ensure federal agencies have the certainty they need to continue operations uninterrupted,' Bolten said in his Nov. 17 letter.

Congress has passed only four spending bills'the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the District of Columbia and Military Construction'while every other agency still is spending at 2004 levels.

In the letter, Bolten outlined the president's priorities, including capping discretionary spending at $387.6 billion, about the same amount as last year. Bolten said the president's senior advisers would recommend he veto any bill that raises discretionary spending.

Bolten also threatened a veto recommendation on any bill including language that would diminish the administration's competitive sourcing initiative. The Agriculture bill and the Treasury/Transportation bill both include provisions that would prohibit competitions or revert to the old OMB Circular A-76.

'The administration strongly objects to several provisions in the remaining bills that would limit the effectiveness of competitive sourcing in improving performance and reducing costs when the government obtains commercial services,' Bolten said.

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