29 January 2007

The National News Hits Home

It's easy to read the news from Washington D.C. and wonder how it could possibly affect any of us way out here. For instance, how could the new Democratic Congress's decision to fund the government through a continuing resolution, rather than passing individual spending bills, affect me?

Then you read something like this:

Congressional budget delays have put several major research projects at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in limbo.

Projects facing uncertain futures include a new $98 million arctic research vessel and efforts related to the upcoming International Polar Year.

"We're on the verge of missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of International Polar Year," said Buck Sharpton, UAF vice chancellor of research.

The outgoing Republican-led Congress failed to approve a budget for the current fiscal year for anything but defense and homeland security. A stopgap measure is keeping budgets for most federal agencies at last year's levels.

As well, I was speaking with the CEO of our local Indian Health Service-funded hospital recently and he was explaining how when a CR is in place, the government disburses the money only on a month-to-month basis. That makes it difficult for the hospital to stay liquid and get the money together for purchases that stretch across several months.

Such is the real-world impact of decisions made on a political level for political reasons.

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