OCTOBER 4, 2006 - The one thing every session of Congress must do is pass the federal budget. But even that’s not done this year as House and Senate members take a break from Washington between now and the elections. The plan is to reconvene sometime in November to tackle the finances and some of what’s left on lawmakers’ plates.
The last week of September proved to be a busy one for members. Bills on Defense and Homeland Security Spending, Port Security, Border Patrol and a measure to bring terrorism suspects to trial all made it through. But that leaves a lot for members when they return and possibly even for next session. Still to go is a list of hotly debated items including: NSA Wiretapping, Immigration Reform, Off Shore Drilling, Minimum Wage, Free Trade, Lobbying Reform and several tax break issues.
Even though Congress has not voted on a budget, the country is able to operate on what’s called a continuing resolution. This joint resolution allows federal funds to continue at 2006 levels until Congress has finished it’s appropriations work, probably sometime in late November.