Budget battle: Omnibus or another CR?

Wednesday - 11/24/2010, 10:31am EST

Molly Hooper. Congressional reporter, the Hill

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

Congress faces what is likely to be the final week of its lame duck session when it returns from the Thanksgiving break on Monday.

Lawmakers must act on the budget to keep government in business past Dec. 3 when the current continuing resolution expires.

Will Congress push through an omnibus bill or another continuing resolution?

"That's the $1 trillion question," said Molly Hooper, a congressional reporter with The Hill, in an interview with the Federal Drive.

Hooper said her prediction is Congress will pass another continuing resolution.

An omnibus would rely on the support of Republicans in the Senate, Hooper said. Even the moderate Senate Republicans are "less apt to make deals with Democrats and approve an omnibus" after hearing the message of the voters.

Congress also faces twelve appropriations bills still waiting for approval.

Hooper said the defense authorization bill probably will not pass until the Pentagon releases its review on the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy that bans gays from openly serving in the military. The current bill repeals the policy.

"If the Pentagon review comes out and says get rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell, more Republicans would be apt to move forward with that piece of legislation," Hooper said.

As Republicans have targeted federal spending to cut the deficit, Hooper said a government shutdown is probably not going to happen while Democrats still have control of the House.

However, Hooper said she sees a chance of a shutdown under the new Congress "because Republicans want to make a point, but they don't have that control now."