CURRENT SITUATION: What The 2015 Budget Deal Means for Families
Today is the last day of the United States' federal government's 2014 fiscal year budget. Thankfully, things are a lot less stressful and chaotic than they were last year, when military members and other government employees were wondering if they'd get paid. However, that doesn't mean that everything is perfect.
The federal government's 2015 fiscal year runs from 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2015. Each year, Congress must authorize, then appropriate money to fund the Department of Defense, and every other government agency, department and program. Pretty regularly, this does not happen before the 1 October start of the fiscal year. Because the government can not run without authorization or appropriation of funds, Congress passes a continuing resolution to allow the government to continue to function until authorizations and appropriations are voted into law. There can be a series of continuing resolutions each year.
This year, Congress managed to get itself together to pass a continuing resolution before the situation became an emergency. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that there is no threat of a government shutdown. The bad news is that effective tomorrow, government agencies are working without a spending plan. None of the twelve required appropriations bills have been passed.
Imagine trying to run your household without having any idea what your income would be, then multiply it by the size of the federal government. It's not a great situation, but it is better than a government shutdown.
So, What Happens Next?The continuing resolution passed by Congress extends the deadline for a budget until 11 December 2014. In theory, the different sides will spend the time between now and then crafting the necessary legislation to plan our government's spending for the next year. In reality, much of Congress is busy campaigning for re-election. When the current continuing resolution expires in December, these legislators may be in their last days in office. It is quite possible that they will then vote to extend the deadline even further.
Will This Affect You?Probably not too directly. The Department of Defense has worked without an authorization bill before, and they'll probably do it again in the future. Pay should not be affected. (Whoohoo!) There may be a shortage of funds for thing within the workplace, or certain programs, but that is not a new situation.
In short, this year's lack-of-budget isn't much different from the situation in most recent years. The government will continue to function, and hopefully, Congress will pull things together before we find ourselves in a tight situation.
I try not to write about each and every movement of the government's appropriation and authorization process. If you have question, I can try to answer them here, or there are a ton of great resources available on the internet. It is interesting and complicated and frustrating all at the same time!
Note: Sometime around the time that I wrote this, Vice Adm. Bill Moran, the Chief of Naval Personnel, also wrote about this issue. It is a short read and you might find it useful: What A Continuing Resolution Means For Sailors and Families.