When both houses of Congress voted to defund ACORN several weeks ago, what they actually did was bar lawmakers and federal agencies from giving any money to the community organizing group for the duration of the temporary budget agreement, or continuing resolution, that was in effect at the time. Continuing resolutions are used to extend federal spending, and keep the government running, when Congress can't agree on appropriations bills for the fiscal year. When the congressional defunding of ACORN went into effect on October 1, there was a continuing resolution in place that would last until October 31 — this Saturday. The ACORN ban was in that resolution, so it will also expire on Saturday.
There are still no appropriations bills in place, so this week Congress will have to pass another continuing resolution to keep the federal government going. The word on the Hill is that the new resolution will probably be written to last until sometime in December.
The question is: will the ACORN defunding language be in the new resolution? The answer appears to be yes, at least for now. “We will do a CR this week that will basically extend the expiration date of the old CR, so the old language will stay,” says one House Republican aide. The aide is “99.9 percent sure” that the ACORN prohibition will be in the new resolution; if Democrats tried to remove it, the aide says, “we would have a big fight this week.”
Provided the ACORN ban stays for now, the real issue will be what happens when the new continuing resolution expires and actual appropriations bills are passed in December. Will there be a provision that says no funds from fiscal year 2010 will go to ACORN? Republicans are cautiously confident. “Democrats have a minority in their caucus that believes we should not have cut off ACORN,” the aide says. “But I can't believe that there's a majority in their caucus that wants to fund ACORN.”
Or at least wants to fight about it. Nevertheless, Republicans say they will be watching the new appropriations bills very closely. The appropriations process is sure to be chaotic, as lawmakers rush to finish spending bills before Christmas and New Year's. All it would take for ACORN funding to resume is the absence of any specific defunding language. If that language is not there, then federal agencies would again have the discretion of sending taxpayer dollars to ACORN. What happens in December could be the key to ACORN's future.