Congress gets back to work this morning, with a possible government shutdown just days away. There are several options including a possible two-week continuing resolution, one that would last four weeks, and one that would last for the rest of Fiscal Year 2011.
Erik Wasson, a staff writer at The Hill newspaper, told Federal News Radio while the Senate is combing the budget for cuts to put in a seven month continuing resolution, “the House is going to take up a two week continuing resolution to fund the government through March 18th, and my sources are pretty convinced that that will pass both the House and the Senate, so I think your listeners can at least breathe easy for a little while longer, at least until March 18th, as far as a shutdown, but at that point it’s very much still on the table I think.”
Additionally, Wasson notes Republican leadership in the House “not eager at all for a shutdown. They remember what happened in the 1990s but some of the 87 freshmen who have never been in government before, they are still talking that they’re eager for it.”
Senate Democrats are taking a cue from President Obama and including cuts from the proposed FY 2012 budget in the funding for 2011. In Wasson’s estimation that move would not make passing the 2012 budget any easier in the future. “It actually may make things a little bit more complicated, because if they take the cuts that Obama was willing to make in 2012 and do them all now? I mean Republicans are going to be looking for more cuts in 2012. So the Democrats will have to find others that are acceptable to them.”
As for the immediate future, said Wasson, “I think there’s going to be a vote on Tuesday in the House on this CR. It’ll be interesting to see if House Democrats vote for it or not. I think if House Democrats largely vote for it, then I think we can just breathe easier there’s not going to be a shutdown. Although some House Democrats, like Chris Van Hollen (in an interview) yesterday, are worried even about this $4 billion dollars in cuts.”
In the end, Wasson said his sense “is that it will pass the Senate and the House and, you know, the House Republicans have enough muscle to get it through just on their own.”
And, of course, once that’s done, Wasson said “there’s also two other big chances for a big government disruption this year,”- the looming debt limit increase and again in September for the 2012 budget.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.