On March 15, President Bill Clinton signed into law the tenth short-term spending measure of the now-sixmonth-old 1996 fiscal year (FY'96), funding the federal government through March 22. At the same time, budget negotiators from both the Republican and Democratic parties scurried to put the finishing touches on a $166 billion-omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 3019, to pay the government's bills for the rest of the fiscal year.
As of March 21, parts of a dozen federal cabinet-level departments and agencies still did not have a definitive budget allocation for FY'96. Nearly all national science research and development programs, agencies, and departments remained tied up by that budget struggle, though very little of the debate has anything to do with those programs (Eos, February 20). H.R. 3019 is designed to end the string of short-term spending measures and to fund all federal departments for the remaining six months of the fiscal year. Congressional leaders hoped to have the bill passed by March 22, though many representatives anticipated that at least one more short-term spending resolution would have to be passed before budget negotiations with the President could be completed.