Working for the government has been no picnic the past few months, with RIFs and reorganizations and all, and another month of "Perils-of-Pauline" money issues is in store.
First, there will be that $14.1 billion supplemental appropriations bill President Reagan vetoed. Something will have to be done on that shortly after Congress comes back Wednesday or furloughs will become a reality in offices large and small, from the Health and Human Services Department to the Office of Personnel Management. But that's just the beginning.
The fiscal year will end Sept. 30, and along with it, the temporary national debt ceiling of $1.127 trillion. Thus Congress will have to take another one of those extremely embarrassing 11th-hour votes to give the Treasury enough borrowing authority to keep the government solvent. The consequences of permitting the ceiling to revert to its permanent limit of $400 billion are that the U.S. government would be in default on almost everything.
Then will come the battle for another big continuing resolution to keep most of the government going because, once again, the appropriations bills have not passed. In fact, only one of the 13 has even passed the House: the military construction bill.
Four more bills are ready for floor action; the others are in various stages of subcommittee action or inaction. The House traditionally moves first on these matters, but Senate committees have held their hearings. Some congressional sources think that only one bill actually has a chance of winning full congressional approval before the end of the fiscal year. Thus, prospects are good for a rerun of last year when the government "closed" for a day while the executive and legislative branches paused in their game of Budget Hardball only long enough to wipe egg off their faces.