Stopgap measure passes Congress

Friday - 3/6/2009, 6:05pm EST

Amy Morris

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Amy Morris
Executive Editor,
FederalNewsRadio

In an effort to keep the federal government running for at least the next few days, Congress passed a stopgap spending measure today. This became necessary after a massive funding bill stalled in the Senate last night.

Q: What's this stopgap measure?

A:It is just a continuation of the continuing resolution, actually. The federal government has been operating under a series of continuing resolutions because the Congress never passed a budget for 2009. These continuing resolutions allow agencies to operate at fixed spending levels before the actual bill is passed. Government funding would have stopped over the weekend without the legislation that passed today. This will keep agencies open through March 11th, that's just next Wednesday. They expect to have the omnibus bill approved by then.

Q: What's the holdup with the omnibus spending bill?

A:It is $410 billion dollars and would fund the government through September when the 2010 budget is supposed to go into effect, but that still has to be passed as well. Republicans and a few Democrats say the omnibus bill has too much pork, or pet projects, in it. The final vote has been postponed until next week. Republican members complained that they had not been given enough time to add their own amendments to the bill.

Q: What are the odds that the bill will pass next week?

A:Lawmakers are hopeful that the omnibus bill will be passed by Wednesday. If not - expect another continuing resolution to serve as another stopgap until they get the bill passed.

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