Obama signs continuing resolution

By: Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

President Obama has signed the continuing resolution, H.R. 3081, into law. The CR will keep the federal government operating through Friday, December 3, 2010.

By a vote of 228-194, Congress approved the CR earlier on Thursday.

As Congress adjourns until November, many big budget questions remain up for debate until after the midterm election (although this year Congress was able to make time to pass 111 resolutions for renaming post offices).

“Democrats now go home clearly defensive about their failure to pass a budget resolution or any of the 12 annual appropriations bills for the new fiscal year that begins Friday,” Politico reports.

The fate of federal pay raises and hiring hinges on whether or not Republicans can take control of one or both houses of Congress.

Bill Bransford, general counsel for the Senior Executives Assocation, told Federal News Radio that he thinks a blanket hiring freeze is unlikely. But Branford said he’s not so sure about the passage of President Obama’s request for a 1.4 pay increase for civilian feds and 1.9 percent military.

As legislative decisions are on hold, so are Obama’s political appointments.

The Senate presiding officer will hold pro forma sessions during the break. Technically, the Senate will be in session during the break, preventing Obama from using his constitutional authority to bypass the Senate and install political appointees temporarily during recesses, Politico reports.

That means a further delay in the expected confirmation of Obama’s nomination of Jack Lew to head the Office of Management and Budget. Lew was expected to be confirmed switfly after his nomination, but Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) placed a hold on the nomination until the administration lifted a suspension of off-short drilling in the Gulf Coast. (An OMB spokesman said Lew ‘s nomination is a separate issue from drilling.)

If confirmed, Lew is likely to revisit the idea of biennial budgeting.

“In the recent past, Congress has been unable to complete it’s budget-making responsibilities, mostly by being late on enacting its appropriations bill,” OMB Watch reports.

The argument for biennial budgeting is that it frees up Congress for program oversight and tweaks to the spending process — instead of being entangled in the budget process.