FY 2022 Bills Delayed until February, Build Back Better Act Inches Forward
On December 3, the House and Senate agreed to the terms of a second continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government open and operating until February 18, 2022. Although fiscal year (FY) 2022 officially began more than two months ago on October 1, Congress has yet to complete negotiations on any of its 12 annual appropriations bills. The latest CR kicks the can into next year, allowing lawmakers time to focus on other year-end priorities. COSSA’s full coverage of FY 2022 appropriations is available here.
In the category of “must-pass” legislation are the annual defense authorization bill, which includes funding authorizations for DOD’s research programs (including in the social and behavioral sciences), and an increase to the federal debt limit. Both of these measures could be resolved as soon as this week.
In addition, the Senate continues to inch forward on the FY 2022 budget reconciliation bill (H.R. 5376), also known as the Build Back Better Act. This massive package containing funding for social safety net programs and climate change initiatives, as well as some funding for federal research agencies, would provide an infusion of new funds in FY 2022 (as well as multi-year funding) in addition to the annual appropriations noted above. The House passed its version of the bill in November, knowing that the Senate is likely to proposed significant changes in order to secure passage given the chamber’s razor thin Democratic majority. The reconciliation process—a parliamentary procedure typically used to achieve changes in law related to spending or revenue—can be a time-consuming endeavor, often requiring the work of multiple Congressional authorizing committees (as opposed to the appropriations committees), but in the end requires only a simple majority in the Senate to pass. Congressional leaders are hoping to enact the bill by Christmas. COSSA will continue to report on the process of the Build Back Better Act.