Congress is once again preparing to pass a second stopgap measure to keep the federal government funded through April 8, averting a shutdown for three more weeks while congressional leaders head to the White House to broker a longer-term deal. The current stopgap is set to expire on March 18. Although Congress has bought itself additional time, lawmakers face enormous challenges as they attempt to tackle the nation’s short- and long-term fiscal problems.
The two parties are deeply divided over how to close a record gap between federal spending and revenue projected to reach $1.6 trillion this year. Republicans are keen to keep making cuts to domestic programs at the bill’s current rate of $4 billion every two weeks.
The short-term resolution represents a concession that Congress has failed at one of its most basic duties: to establish a fiscal blueprint for the nation. The Democratic-led body didn’t pass a budget last year and it failed to approve a single appropriations bill in 2010, marking the current fiscal year as the first in modern U.S. history to begin with no federal spending authority in place.
The resolution now in effect represents the third stopgap spending bill since the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2010. House Republicans passed legislation in late February that would carry the government through the next seven months, but it included $61 billion in spending cuts that Democrats said would cost 700,000 jobs.
For more information contact Kate Klimow, Vice President of Government Affairs.