With the deadline next Wednesday, Congress acted swiftly enough to keep the government operational, and preserve their two week Easter break that begins next week. What exactly is a Continuing Resolution? It is legislation in the form of a congressional joint resolution that would allow federal agencies and programs to continue to operate at current funding levels through the fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2013. The Senate passed one on Wednesday and it sailed through the House on Thursday, with a bipartisan vote of 318-109. Once the President signs the Continuing Resolution, a shutdown is officially avoided.
With a little under a week to spare before the deadline, Congress had plenty of breathing room. At least considering how close a shutdown has come before. The last, and longest, government shutdown was from December 15, 1995 through January 6, 1996 under President Clinton. More recently, the country was less than an hour away from shutdown when Congress passed a Continuing Resolution just minutes before the April 8, 2011 midnight deadline. This funding is incredibly important and the bipartisan support that the Continuing Resolution received is a very positive sign. But with one crisis averted, another one is coming in less than a month. A new budget must be passed by Congress before April 15 or No Budget, No Pay will go into effect, garnishing legislators pay until a deal can be reached. The House and the Senate have each been working on budgets, but it remains to be seen if Republicans and Democrats can find common ground like they did for the Continuing Resolution. One more fiscal test down, with several other important, and telling, tests to watch for.