Facing a December 3 deadline, the House and Senate this week will take up a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded through about December 17, increasing odds the lame-duck session will spill into the week before Christmas.
The Senate will take up a two-week CR after completing action on food safety legislation this week, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The Senate is expected to take up the bill after House passage. According to House sources, a House vote is expected Wednesday.
The plan to pass a two-week extension of federal funding may effectively dash hopes that Congress will be in for less than three weeks after Thanksgiving. Though lawmakers could act before the bill expires, an end date of about December 17 likely means they will be around that day, a Friday, and perhaps part of the next week, to move another extension.
The government has been funded by continuing resolutions since October 1 because Congress did not pass any appropriations bills this year. That failure is part of a pattern in which both parties in recent years avoided serious attempts to move appropriations bills in election years.
The current CR runs through midnight December 3.
Although many Democrats are still urging passage of an omnibus fiscal 2011 funding bill, it is more likely Congress will pass another continuing resolution before heading home for Christmas, ensuring most agencies remain funded at last year's levels.