With news today of the US House of Representatives approving a continuing resolution funding the government at 2013 levels, while also trying to defund the Affordable Care Act, those hoping that Congress would approve the budget for the next fiscal year which included the President’s request for a new status plebiscite in Puerto Rico will be disappointed.
H.J.Res. 59, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution for 2014, keeps funding levels for all agencies at 2013 levels, which means it uses the levels for the Department of Justice as contained in Public Law 113-6. Since there was no request last year, the plebiscite is not included.
Ezra Klein on the Washington Post has a likely scenario of what is to happen with the budget. The national topic of conversation has centered on Republican efforts to defund Obamacare, and the Speaker of the House let the piece of legislation doing so pass for a vote. As Klein explains, everyone expects the bill to be dead on arrival in the Senate, controlled by the Democrats. On top of that, the White House has threaten to veto the measure if it contains the provision defunding the President’s signature domestic achievement.
Congress needs to pass a budget, or as it has been doing, a continuing resolution funding government operations before October 1 to avoid a government shutdown. What is likely to happen then, is that the Senate approves the continuing resolution the House approved, without the Obamacare defunding parts, and then sending it back to the House for reconciliation. Technically, the Senate could introduce more changes, but with the limited time frame, and seeing how the Senate Appropriations committee version of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2014 did not include the President’s proposal for a new plebiscite, it is very unlikely for the proposal to be added.
If approved, the continuing resolution would fund the government until December. While at that point Congress could draft a new budget, it usually approves new continuing resolutions, and if that happens, the chances of the plebiscite proposal being included, especially with no real effort from the White House, are essentially none. Suddenly HR 2000‘s 4% chance of getting enated into law seems more promising.