Capitol to Capitol
An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees

Volume 18   Issue 9 - March 11, 2011


Discussions to complete FY 2011 appropriations continue, as no middle ground could be found this week on spending cuts for the next six months. With the fifth continuing resolution passed last week extending current funding to March 18, the Senate held two “test” votes on competing plans. The House-passed proposal (H.R. 1), containing $60 billion in cuts, lost by a vote of 44-56. Meanwhile, the White House and Senate majority alternative, which contained $6.5 billion in cuts for the remainder of FY 2011, lost 42-58. This plan included reductions from FY 2011 funding requests in nuclear proliferation, state/foreign operations, the National Science Foundation and the Career Pathways Innovation Fund. Compared to H.R. 1, it would restore $25 billion for education, health and job-training programs and nearly $12 billion for transportation andHUD programs. With neither proposal gaining any traction, a sixth CR seems inevitable. The House has offered a three-week extension that would cut spending by $6 billion, maintaining Virginia Representative Eric Cantor’s vow to average $2 billion in cuts per week for the remainder of FY 2011. Stay tuned. (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)


On March 10, NCSL sent a letter to House and Senate Appropriations leaders advocating for more state flexibility in administering the clean water and drinking water state revolving loan funds (SRF). Also signed by the National Governors Association and the Council of State Governments, the letter urges Congress to temporarily suspend the 20 percent match for SRF grants, particularly in lieu of cuts to both the clean water and safe drinking water state revolving funds in the president’s FY 2012 budget request and in the House-passed H.R. 1. The letter is available at (NCSL Staff Contacts: Tamra Spielvogel, Max Behlke)


Former Wyoming U.S. Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, are continuing their deficit reduction campaign with the launch of the “Moment of Truth Project.” Based out of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the project hopes to capitalize on and maintain momentum from the president’s commission by debating: discretionary, mandatory and health care spending cuts; Social Security solvency; reform of the tax code; and alternative budget processes. The Moment of Truth Project aims to work with members of Congress and the administration on the enactment of deficit reduction legislation as well as educating the public on the consequences of the nation’s rising debt. (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)


In testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated the need for Congress to fix but??? reauthorize No Child Left Behind, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Secretary Duncan stated, “82 percent of America’s schools could be labeled ‘failing’ and, over time, the required remedies for all of them are the same, which means we will really fail to serve the students in greatest need.” He added, “No Child Left Behind is broken, and we need to fix it now.” (NCSL staff contacts: Lee Posey, Michael Reed)