Facing a looming deadline, Congress passed a temporary funding bill to avoid a government shutdown and continue funding for federal programs through February 18, 2022. The stopgap funding bill, also known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), maintains current spending levels for all federal agencies and additionally provides $7 billion in emergency funds for continued assistance to help resettle Afghan refugees. However, the CR did not waive pay-as-you-go rules, which may result in spending cuts beginning in January.
Most notably, the CR did not include a suspension of the debt ceiling, after recent negotiations on including a debt ceiling provision in the national defense spending bill failed to materialize. The U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) has stated the debt ceiling must be raised by December 15, 2021, in order for the government to continue to pay its financial obligations. The December 15 is significant as Treasury is tasked with completing a $118 billion transfer to the Highway Trust Fund by that date as directed by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act signed into law last month.
Counties urge our federal partners to reach a bipartisan agreement and raise the debt limit, as has been the practice dozens of times before. We also welcome a serious conversation about our long-term debt and deficit, and how responsible investments today will impact future generations.
With the CR signed into law, Congress continues to negotiate Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 spending levels with the U.S. Senate’s consideration of the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), which passed the House of Representatives on November 22 in a party-line vote. The BBBA is expected to be updated significantly in the U.S. Senate, and NACo’s latest analysis of the BBBA can be found here.
As negotiations over FY 2022 spending levels continue, NACo will advocate for county priorities and monitor updates closely.