Three-Week Stopgap in the WorksMarch 11, 2011 - by Donny Shaw
Following the Senate’s rejection of two long-term government funding proposals — one from Republicans and one from Democrats — congressional negotiators are back to working out another stopgap bill to keep the federal government from shutting down. The current stopgap bill is set to expire next Friday. According to reports, the plan now is to move a three-week funding extension that continues the same rate of cuts from the current extension — about $2 billion per week below 2010 levels — and gives Congress until early April to work out a longer-term solution.
With little hope of a budget deal being reached before the end of next week, House Republicans are preparing another short-term spending measure to give the House and Senate a chance to come to agreement over a broader plan to keep the government operating through Sept. 30.
Lawmakers and top aides on Thursday said stopgap legislation to be considered next week would most likely cover three weeks and include an additional $6 billion in cuts, possibly drawn from spending reductions offered by Democrats and the White House in earlier budget talks. The current two-week law expires next Friday and carries $4 billion in cuts.
These continuing resolutions are relatively non-controversial. They cut spending at the rate the Republican leadership prefers by accelerating specific cuts that are supported by most members of both parties. But they can’t go on forever. Eventually, they’re going to run out of cuts that Democrats support, and when that happens we’re going to be stuck in a stalemate between the Republican House and the Democratic Senate. Some kind of grand bargain is going to have occur at that point, and it will probably have to involve the Democrats moving closer to the Republicans on cutting levels and the Republicans agreeing to take some of their contentious social policy items out of the funding bill.