Congress was still in session late in December, 2005 debating the USA Patriot Act, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and how to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year. Congress is rarely still in session that late in December – a telling sign, not only of the importance of the issues being debated, but of the wrangling taking place about these important issues. How did Congress arrive at this point and what are the likely outcomes for Arkansas? This paper will show why this debate is so important to our state, and list some of its likely outcomes.
The Importance of the Federal Budget
Why should Arkansans care about what happens in this rather complicated federal budget process? The answer is simple. Budget decisions impact our daily lives – the programs on the chopping block impact all Arkansans in some way, whether the program is Medicaid, Veteran’s health care benefits, or the setting of student loan interest rates.