Short-Term CR Likely

The federal government continues to operate under a Continuing Resolution that will expire Friday night, March 4, 2011. Although the U.S. House worked feverishly to complete a CR (H.R. 1) that would set funding for the government through the remainder of the fiscal year, ending September 30, 2011, it included $59 billion in cuts from current funding levels (2010 levels) and $100 billion in cuts from the President’s request for FY 2011. Senate Democrats, eager to pass a CR for the fiscal year that reflects a different set of priorities, may need time to review and consider the cuts in H.R. 1.

In the interim, both the House and Senate are working toward a short-term CR to fund the government. On Friday, February 25, 2011, the House Appropriations Committee released details of a CR that would fund the government for two weeks. It keeps the government operating at current levels, with two exceptions. It terminates funding for eight programs that the President agreed to terminate or did not include in his budget request, cutting $1.24 billion. The CR also eliminates funding that was included in earmarks for FY 2010, saving $2.7 billion. No cuts to NIH or NSF research are included in the short-term CR, although cuts are made to CDC, HRSA, and SAMHSA, as well as education. The short-term CR is expected to be introduced in the House on March 1, 2011.

Meanwhile, House Democrats introduced a CR that would fund the government for one month at FY 2010 levels. Like their colleagues in the House, Senate Democrats prefer a one-month CR at current funding levels, but they do not have the 60 votes needed to change it. Given the interest in a short-term CR, for now at least, it appears that a government shutdown may not occur on March 4, 2011.