This afternoon, the House of Representatives passed an extension of the FY2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) until March 18, 2011. The bill incorporates the $4 billion in cuts recommended by the House Appropriations Committee. The measure now goes to the Senate, which is expected to take it up Wednesday or Thursday.
The $4 billion in additional funding cuts are expected to meet with little resistance in the Senate. These cuts target programs and projects that the president terminated or for which he did not request funding in his FY2012 budget. However, Senate Democrats, along with most observers, think that two more weeks is not enough time to finalize FY2011 appropriations. And, they are more worried that another short-term extension after March 18 could carry even more cuts. Some House Republicans have indicated that they would support a series of short-term CR extensions each of which would include additional cuts. As a result, Senate Democrat leaders (with support from the White House) have considered proposing an alternative that extends the current CR until April 8. However, this idea appears to be losing traction as House Republican leaders have signaled that they would only agree to a two-week extension.
Therefore, with the March 4 deadline fast approaching, the House resisting an alternative to their two-week extension, and few in Congress wanting to cause a government shut down, the Senate will most likely agree to the House bill. And, the CR saga will continue.