What felt like one of the longest weeks in Congress came to a close in the wee hours of Saturday morning when the House passed a stop-gap funding measure by a vote of 235-189 after several days of debate and consideration of hundreds of amendments. The continuing resolution (“CR”) cuts $61 billion dollars from the current year’s budget, including significant cuts at the SEC, though it is essentially dead-on-arrival in the Senate. The beginning of the week saw the release of the President’s FY 12 budget, which trimmed $1.1 trillion dollars from the deficit in an effort to present the President as serious about reducing federal spending. However, the budget was generally panned as not being serious enough and Speaker Boehner made it clear it was DOA in the House.
The passage of the CR in the House also sets up two great fights for Congress when they return form the President’s Day Recess (a/k/a District Work Period) on February 28th. First, the need for the Senate to pass and for both Houses to agree to a CR to keep the government operating past March 4th, and second the looming vote on increasing the debt ceiling. Despite reports that a government shutdown is imminent, we expect the Senate to pass another short term CR that the House will grudgingly accept, before both battles come to a convergence in April or early May. Absent both sides coming together to have the “adult conversation” that Speaker Boehner mentioned earlier this week, it should prove to be an interesting and exciting few months.
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