From Legislative Procedure:

On Monday, Senate Democrats released the text of their government funding bill – the Continuing Appropriations and Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2023. Among its provisions, the continuing resolution – or CR – extends funding for approximately one-third of the federal government until December 16. That funding will expire on Saturday if Congress does not pass the bill (or approve new funding) by the deadline. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., began the Senate’s process to vote on the Democrats’ CR before the end of the week.

Anomalies

The Democratic proposal also includes provisions that go beyond merely extending last year’s funding levels until December 16. These so-called anomalies depart from those funding levels or make legislative changes to policies in current law. The Ukraine-related funding and permitting provisions for energy projects are examples of anomalies. Other anomalies include additional Federal Bureau of Investigation funding and an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program. (A section-by-section analysis of the proposal is available here.)

Senate leaders add anomalies like these to stop-gap spending bills because they are likely to become law with little debate. This is because leaders typically wait until the last minute to release the text of the CR. Doing so makes it harder for senators not involved in the negotiations to review the stop-gap spending bill thoroughly before casting an up-or-down vote. And leaders almost always block senators from offering amendments to the CR during the Senate’s truncated debate.

Identifying Anomalies

It can be challenging for lawmakers and staff to identify anomalies in such circumstances quickly. However, a useful shortcut is to search the bill text for the following words.

  1. Notwithstanding: As in “notwithstanding any provision(s) of law.” Provisions that include this language are legislative in nature.

  2. Until: As in funding for a specific program in the underlying bill is made available “until expended.” Provisions that include this language are legislative in nature.

  3. “Provided,”: This is not always an anomaly. Adding quotations and a comma to the search query should better isolate legislative provisions that include prohibited uses of the term. They are set in italics in the bill text.

  4. Provided Further,”: Same stipulations as above. However, provisions that include this language are more likely to be an anomaly because of the additional proviso signified by “further.”

  5. Secretary: Provisions that include this language usually contain a contingency (which is legislative in nature). They may also direct the Secretary (or Administrator, Attorney General, etc.) to take a specific action (also legislative in nature).

  6. Unless: Provisions that include this language usually contain a contingency. Stipulating “unless” gives administration officials discretion in the context of that contingency.

  7. Or any other: Provisions that include this language usually contain a funding rider, as in “none of the funds made available in this act or any other Act.” Limiting funds made available by Congress in other acts is legislative in nature.

  8. Determines: Used in the context of a contingency. Provisions that include this language usually restrict funding availability until a determination of some kind is made.

  9. In General: Usually the first two words of a full bill. What follows is almost always legislative in nature.

  10. Are Authorized: Provisions that include this language authorize funding instead of appropriating it. They are legislative in nature.

  11. Is Amended: Provisions that include this language usually contain amendments to existing statutes. Doing so is legislative in nature.

  12. Report Accompanying: Provisions that include this language usually incorporate, by reference, language contained in the Committee report. It is not always legislative in nature. (Note: In the past, Senate appropriators frequently used this language to incorporate earmark tables into appropriations bills.)