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The House of Representatives on September 19 approved a continuing resolution (CR) that would extend current funding levels for federal programs through November 21. If also approved by the Senate as expected, the bill will avert a government shutdown at the end of the month. Passage of the measure will also buy lawmakers more time to negotiate a path forward for completing work on the outstanding slate of FY20 appropriations bills.

The CR approved by the House continues most departments, agencies, and programs at their current FY19 levels – including EPA and its water infrastructure funding programs. The Senate is expected to follow suit and approve the measure during the week of September 23 – less than a week before the current fiscal year ends at midnight on September 30.

While the House of Representatives earlier approved its plans for 10 of the 12 spending bills for FY20, the Senate only began to markup and vote on its own versions of the bills this month. This is because Senate leaders pledged to withhold developing any spending bills until both parties agreed on an overall budget framework for the 2020 fiscal year. That agreement was reached in July, so measures the Senate is writing will fall within the bounds of those topline spending figures. The House, by contrast, developed its spending bills based on a budget framework developed by Democratic leaders – and which exceeds the levels agreed to in the July budget deal. That means that many programmatic spending figures in the House-approved bills will likely need to be adjusted downward when the two chambers sit down to work out final spending bills for EPA and other federal operations later this year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to release and mark up its version of the FY20 Interior-EPA spending bill during the week of September 23. This will offer a glimpse at the Senate’s funding priorities for EPA and will set the stage for the bill to proceed to consideration before the full Senate in October.