Congress is poised to pass another stopgap spending measure to avoid a government shutdown, though it will only fund agencies for three additional days to give lawmakers more time to strike a deal on a full-year appropriations bill.
The current continuing resolution will expire Jan. 15, and congressional appropriators have said they are close to reaching an agreement on an omnibus bill that would allocate more than $1 trillion in federal government spending for the remainder of fiscal 2014. The three-day CR would give negotiators -- led by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., who head the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, respectively -- through Saturday, Jan. 18, to finalize and pass through Congress the spending levels for each government agency.
“We’re making solid progress and I’m confident that next week we’ll have a bipartisan agreement that finds common ground,” Mikulski said Friday. “This very short extension is needed to prevent any funding gaps as the agreement moves through the House and Senate next week.”
Rogers introduced the bill on Friday, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said he expects the House to pass it early next week. A spokeswoman for Rogers said the chairman hopes to introduce the omnibus -- which includes 12 separate spending measures and details on a line-by-line level how agencies must spend their funds -- on Sunday or Monday.
The short-term CR should have no problem clearing its requisite hurdles; Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on the House floor Friday he would encourage Democrats to support the measure and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama would sign it into law so long as negotiators were making progress on the larger bill. The stopgap bill would continue to fund agencies at their current levels.
Most of the details of the omnibus have been agreed to, Mikulski and Rogers have said, but spending levels to support some of Obama’s marquee first-term accomplishments -- such as health care and financial sector reforms -- must still be hammered out. The framework of the negotiations was agreed to in a two-year budget deal passed in December, which partially repealed the spending caps known as sequestration.