House approves stopgap funding for 2007

Just days before President Bush delivers his budget request for 2008, the House passed a $463.5 billion continuing resolution to cover the cost of running the government for the remainder of the 2007 fiscal year.

The vote was 286-140 on Wednesday to approve H.J. Res. 20, the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007. The Senate is expected to consider it next week.

The president releases his 2008 budget on Monday. A round of congressional hearings to discuss the budget proposal also begins next week.

Among its provisions, the continuing resolution as passed puts on hold the merger of the General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy and Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs under a new office. GSA must keep the offices separate and must gain the approval of Congress to do otherwise. GSA Administrator Lurita Doan combined the offices in December despite questions by Congress, industry and voices within GSA.

Among major IT projects, the measure includes $100 million to fund Sentinel, the FBI's system to move to electronic data sharing from paper-based case management.

The spending measure also provides $694.1 million for the 2010 Census, including technology to collect data faster and more accurately, and for other periodic collection programs. This is about $50 million more than the House and Senate recommendations last year.

'This modest investment in new equipment will allow the Census Bureau to improve the way we track population changes and save taxpayers over $1 billion,' said Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), chairman of the Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The resolution, co-written by the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, also eliminates earmarks, individual projects that members of Congress insert in spending bills.

'I don't expect people to love this proposal; I don't love this proposal, and we probably have made some wrong choices,' said House Appropriations chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.), but doing so allowed Congress to complete work on spending bills left unfinished by the departing Republican chairmen last year. Only two of 11 spending bills had passed.

Most programs will continue to be funded at 2006 levels adjusted for increased pay costs. Adjustments were made within the confines of the Republican budget resolution that the Democrats inherited to increase funding for veterans and military health, public housing, educational programs and scientific research.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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