Government shutdown averted for another two weeks

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UPDATE 12:45, p.m. March 2: The Senate approved the new continuing resolution in a 91-9 vote taken at 11:02 a.m. 

Worries of a government shutdown likely can go on a temporary hiatus following the March 1 approval by the House of Representatives of a two-week continuing resolution expected to likewise gain approval in the Senate. The current continuing resolution expires on March 4, after which, should there be no action from Congress, the federal government would be forced to stop paying "nonessential" personnel.

The new continuing resolution, approved 335-91 in the House, makes approximately $4 billion in spending cuts to programs in the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.

About $1.24 billion of those cuts would come from programs set for elimination in fiscal 2012: Election Assistance Grants, the Broadband Direct Loan Subsidy, the Smithsonian Institution Legacy Fund, the Striving Readers Program, the LEAP program, Even Start, Smaller Learning Communities, and a one-time Highway funding addition.

The remainder of the $4 billion would come eliminating earmarks, according to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).

The Defense Department, however, has continued to complain about not having a full year's worth of appropriations and at their requested amount. In a March 1 hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the effect the continuing resolution has had on the department, Deputy Secretary William Lynn called failure to pass a year-long spending bill "a crisis at our doorstep" that "will damage national security."

The DoD had requested $549 billion for base operations in the current fiscal year; should Congress continue to fund it more or less at previous fiscal year levels (what generally occurs under a continuing resolution), then Defense would have a $23 billion gap, Lynn said.

"The services have delayed 75 projects that affect our capabilities and quality of life for our service men and women," he added.

"If we have to continue under the CR, problems like these would snowball," Lynn told the committee.

For more:  
- go to the THOMAS page for the newest CR (H.J. RES 44)
- see how representatives voted
- go to a statement by Rep. Rogers on the new CR
- go to the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing webpage

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