After seemingly reaching the culmination of a lengthy budget fight, the Senate abruptly pulled the plug on a prospective omnibus spending bill for FY 2011 late Thursday night, leaving the appropriations process up in the air. On Friday night, Congress approved yet another temporary Continuing Resolution (CR) that will keep the government running through midnight on December 21. At that time, it is expected that the Senate will pass another CR that will run through March of 2011, passing the FY11 budget process to the new 112th Congress.
The House has already approved a year-long CR for FY11. However, Senate Appropriations chairman Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) has expressed his displeasure for that option, preferring instead an omnibus bill that would grant some flexibility in funding levels for different governmental departments and agencies. Yet Inouye was unable to muster up the now-mandatory 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and shut off debate, leaving the omnibus bill to die without even reaching a full vote.
Assuming the longer CR is passed on Tuesday, the appropriations process will now be directed by the Republicans, who will regain the majority in the House hoping to follow through on their promise to reduce federal spending to FY 2008 levels.