Congress avoids a government shutdown ... for now

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The House and Senate passed a continuing resolution on Sept. 30 in the face of a deadline to keep the government open into fiscal year 2016. Feds worried about a partial government shutdown can exhale, at least until Dec. 11, when this latest funding bill expires.

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 78 to 20 in a morning session. The House followed suit in the afternoon, passing a concurring measure on a 277 to 151. President Obama has already indicated he'd sign the bill, which funds the government at FY2015 levels, and continues the caps from the Budget Control Act of 2013.

The surprise announcement of House Speaker John Boehner's pending resignation cleared the path to avoiding a shutdown. Republicans in the House had vowed to make defunding Planned Parenthood the price of any deal to keep the government fully open for business. Without the pressures of having to run for reelection as speaker, Boehner was free to seek Democratic support for a stopgap spending measure. Only 91 Republicans in the House backed the continuing resolution, while 151 voted against. No House Democrats opposed the measure.

"Once again, Congress has had to act on a short-term funding bill to keep the lights on in government," said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "This yearly, destabilizing practice is bad for the U.S. economy, bad for the reliability of important government programs -- including our national defense -- and wastes federal money by arbitrarily postponing actions that make better use of taxpayer dollars."

"However," Rogers added, "this legislation is absolutely necessary, as the alternative -- a government shutdown -- is reckless and irresponsible."

Unless a longer-term appropriations deal is reached, lawmakers and the president will find themselves in the same spot in December -- and the federal debt limit must soon be addressed as well. It remains to be seen whether Boehner can craft such deals in the waning days of his term, or if it will be left to his likely successor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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