The Looming Budget Battle
Each year Congress needs to pass a federal budget in order to keep the Government up and running and for all the federal agencies to remain open and operating and fulfilling their missions. Last year Congress failed to pass a budget that covers the full year and have passed several continuing resolutions to keep the Government open. The next continuing resolution expires on Friday, April 8th and while it appears that Congress and the President are working towards another continuing resolution, the appetite among many in Congress for passing these continuing resolutions are wearing thin. While I do not believe the Congressional leadership nor the Administration would like to see a Government shutdown, there are no guarantees that another deal will be made in time.
What does that mean for the E-rate program? The E-rate program is funded out of the Universal Service Fund (USF), not the federal budget. This means the day-to-day functioning of the E-rate program will be unaffected by any potential government shutdown. USAC will continue to review applications and invoices as they normally do. That’s the good news.
Unfortunately, even though daily operations would continue, a government shutdown would impact work taking place at the FCC. The FCC sets the overall policy for the E-rate program and the negative impact of a shutdown for any length of time will be felt there. Here is a list of some of the E-rate related matters that would be impacted by a government shutdown:
- E-rate applications and other reviews that are “pending FCC guidance”
- Funding Decision Appeals submitted to the FCC
- Clarifications and further guidance concerning the Sixth Report and Order
- Items for which the FCC has recently requested public feedback (such as the FY2010 Priority Two Discount Funding Threshold)
- EDU 2011 applications
- Draft FY2012 Eligible Services List
- FCC National Broadband Plan reforms
As I mentioned, USAC will still operate regardless of a government shutdown. Stakeholders will receive PIA questions on their Form 471 applications and it will be important to continue to as responsive as you can in order to receive your funding commitment letters in a timely fashion.
Continue to check www.fundsforlearning.com for the latest E-rate news, analysis and commentary.