On a 91 to 9 vote Wednesday, the Senate passed the House's two-week Continuing Resolution extension. It cuts $4 billion from current federal government spending levels. President Obama signed the CR on Wednesday afternoon setting the new budgeting deadline for March 18.
The way ahead for finalizing appropriations for FY2011 remains unclear. Few think that two weeks is enough time for the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate to reach final agreement on a bill the president will sign. So, another CR extension is highly probable, possibly until April 15, when Congress is scheduled to leave town for a two-week recess.
Already work is being done to create a long-term budget designed to extend funding to the end of the fiscal year. President Obama is sending Vice President Joe Biden to Capitol Hill Thursday to open talks with Republicans. Following Senate passage, the President says we cannot keep doing business this way. Living with the threat of a shutdown every few weeks is not responsible, and it puts our economic progress in jeopardy.
As for the House passed budget that would cut $61 billion is funding for the rest of the year, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, asked how to start a conversation where one chamber has spoken and the other one hasn't.