CR-mania on Capitol Hill

CR-mania on Capitol Hill

This afternoon the House passed yet another Continuing Resolution (CR). The new House bill (H. J. Res. 105) would fund the government at FY2010 levels through the middle of next week in case the Senate does not complete work on a funding bill by midnight tomorrow.

Not many days ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hoped to adjourn the Senate today with the tax package and FY2011 funding completed. The tax package did get through both the Senate and the House and was signed into law today by President Obama.

FY2011 funding, on the the other hand, remains up in the air. The current CR expires at midnight tomorrow, Saturday, December 18. Congress must pass something before that or the govenrment will shut down. The House passed a year-long CR last week, but the Senate has not passed anything. Senate Democrats had hoped to pass an omnibus package containing all the 12 regular appropriations bills, but it included more than $2 billion in earmarks, leading some Senate Republicans to change their minds about voting in favor of it in these anti-earmark times. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) then introduced a 3-month long CR, but congressional Democrats and the President do not want to start the new year with a budget fight so want the year-long CR already passed by the House. So there are three CRs in play: the year-long version passed by the House last week, the 3-month version introduced by Senator McConnell, and the 3-day version passed today by the House.

It’s anyone’s guess as to when this will be resolved. If members of Congress want to get home before Christmas Eve, they will find a compromise tomorrow. If not, Congress could remain in session until Santa is packing his sleigh — and theoretically could come back between Christmas and New Year’s.

The House will adjourn tonight and return, if necessary, on Tuesday. Any bill must pass both chambers and the House has not considered Senator McConnell’s version yet, so the Senate must pass one tomorrow that already has cleared the House if they want the government to continue operating.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the new House-passed CR was for 5 days, but it is for 3 days, through Tuesday.

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