A final spending bill to fund the government for the duration of the current fiscal year may not be enacted for several weeks or months given the divide between the House plan to fund federal operations through the remainder of fiscal 2011 and the approach expected to be adopted in the Senate. A more pressing concern will be averting a government shutdown after March 4. Lawmakers will have a week to negotiate a short-term extension of the existing continuing resolution when they return from their Presidents Day recess.
If nothing else, the dispute likely will hold hostage the full-year defense spending bill that is part of the House package (H.R. 1). The House bill passed Saturday calls for trimming federal spending by more than $61 billion compared to FY 2010 spending. Funding for DOD, though, would climb by $8 billion compared to FY 2010, with the allocation for military construction and veterans affairs dropping by $2.6 billion.
Efforts to pass a stopgap continuing resolution to keep the government running past March 4 will be unusually contentious. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last week insisted that any short-term measure include spending cuts from current levels, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this week said he intends to pass a one-month extension of the continuing resolution at current spending levels. Reid said the stopgap bill would give the two sides time to hash out an agreement over the rest of fiscal 2011, according to CQ Today.