With the current Continuing Resolution (CR) set to expire Friday December 16 it appears likely that Congress will need to pass another CR to avoid a government shutdown. 

House and Senate conferees have essentially completed work on a final FY2012 appropriations bill, but some final details remain unsettled.  This bit of unfinished appropriations business and the ongoing disagreement  between congressional Democrats and Republicans over how to pay for extending the payroll tax and unemployment insurance benefits and fixing the Medicare doctor reimbursement gap will likely delay final action on the FY2012 appropriations bill.

The House has passed a payroll tax extension bill that Democrats and the president strongly oppose.  And, Senate Democrats appear reluctant to complete action on the FY2012 appropriations bill before the payroll tax issue is settled.  They are concerned that they would face immense pressure to agree to the House payroll tax bill if the FY2012 appropriation bill was passed and signed first. 

So, unless the current impasse is settled, Congress will pass a short extension of the CR, a move that the White House appears ready to accept.  The president’s press secretary Jay Carney told reporters yesterday “ if there is the need, come the end of the week, for Congress to pass another short-term CR, as it has done seven times this year, then they should do that to avoid a shutdown.”