On Tuesday, Congress approved a Continuing Resolution that will fund the federal government at FY 2010 levels through March 4, 2011. The measure will pass the appropriations process to the 112th Congress, leaving to the new lineup the task of funding the remaining seven months of FY11.
The current fiscal year began on Oct. 1, but none of the twelve appropriations bills had been passed by either chamber of Congress, requiring a temporary CR to keep the government running while appropriations were finalized. The House eventually passed a year-long CR that would have frozen funding for agencies at FY10 levels, while the Senate instead chose to attempt an omnibus bill that would have made slight adjustments to agency budgets. However, when Republicans balked at both the overall funding level and the presence of hundreds of billions of dollars in earmarks, the omnibus was pulled, leaving little option other than another temporary CR to keep federal agencies running.
The three month extension gives science advocates more time to push for strong budgets for agencies that support research, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Be sure to let your representatives hear your voice in support of science!