A dysfunctional budget process has congressional Republicans trying to fund the government without knowing how much they can spend, Politico reported.
And without clear spending targets, federal agencies are left in the dark about how to plan their own budgets, the outlet reported.
"It's a puzzling year," Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who oversees spending for energy and water programs, told the news outlet. "It's going to be a very difficult year."
The House and Senate are supposed to pass budgets by April 15 to establish a total federal spending level, Politico noted. That figure is then divvied up among 12 appropriations subcommittees, which draft bills to fund the federal government that must be passed by Sept. 30.
Lawmakers have not hit the deadline in two decades, Politico reported.
"If we can get anything like a notional number, we can get started on next year's [appropriations]," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairman of the subcommittee that funds the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments, told Politico.
The first set of public budget hearings is now kicking off across Capitol Hill, but GOP leaders still have not given committee leaders a clear picture of their spending levels.
"There's a lot of major decisions that have to be made," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a senior member of the Budget and Appropriations committees. "I'm very worried with the truncated process we've got for appropriations."
Congress has just three more months until an August recess.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who oversees agriculture spending, said he will probably start writing his bill soon at the budget sequestration level — a figure that would require some cuts compared to current spending.
"We've talked about some hearings," Hoeven said. ". . . I'm not sure, we'll have to see. I have to get a sense of what that top-line is. We want to get going, no doubt about it, because we'd like to go through regular process."
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