President Obama signed a continuing resolution Wednesday to keep the government running through March 18, giving lawmakers two more weeks to complete a fiscal 2011 spending bill to fund federal operations through Sept. 30. Enactment of the legislation, which was approved by the Senate earlier in the day, averts a government shutdown but still leaves the Pentagon scrambling to pay its most critical bills in the absence of a full-year spending measure.
In response to repeated pleas from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other Pentagon officials, some lawmakers are urging their colleagues to split the FY 2011 defense spending bill from the full-year package the House passed Feb. 19, H.R. 1. That prospect, however, faces resistance on both sides of the aisle, reported CQ Today. Appropriators in both chambers believe that including the defense spending bill in H.R. 1 provides the best impetus to reach a comprehensive deal on funding all federal agencies. Meanwhile, some House Republicans, primarily freshman, want the DOD portion to remain part of a larger spending bill so the military can bear a share of the government-wide spending cuts they seek.
The president Wednesday also called on Democratic and Republican leaders to begin negotiations with the vice president and other top White House officials to complete work on a 2011 spending measure.