In six days, the continuing resolution to fund the government runs out. To avoid a government shutdown, the House and Senate will have to agree on some stopgap measure to allow the government to continue to run. Yet all the talk in Washington is over a completely separate budget process, the Super Committee deliberations, which must come to a resolution by November 23.
It’s certainly possible that some stopgap bill, set at current levels, will emerge next week. This happened at the end of September. But if that is being readied, it’s hard to find. Here’s the House Rules Committee report of bills that will be considered on the floor next week. You can’t find a continuing resolution there. Obviously that could be generated pretty quickly, but right now there are no plans. And it’s six days before a shutdown. In the Senate, the last recorded vote Thursday was an appropriations bill for energy and water development. That means the normal appropriations process is moving forward, but not a continuing resolution, which they would have to get onto and pass at some point next week. And it’s six days before a shutdown.
The two parties are negotiating a broader budget agreement, but nobody expects that to resolve itself within a week. And the David Rogers story linked above was written over a week ago, and gave Monday as the deadline for a spending compromise bill. But there’s been nothing since then, and almost a total media blackout on the precarious situation with the nation’s finances thereafter.
At least the House and Senate are both in session next week, a rare occurrence lately. The President, who presumably would be interested in funding the government and who has a role to play by signing the legislation, left town for a week on a tour of the Pacific. It makes political sense for him to distance from that other budget negotiation, with the Super Committee, and certainly he has staff to work through some kind of continuing resolution compromise, but there won’t be a President there to knock heads together. If Congress does manage to pass a bill, the President could sign it by autopen, but Press Secretary Jay Carney didn’t seem to know the plan, suggesting that this hasn’t even really been talked about at a high level at the White House:
Q: And the continuing resolution, assuming there is one on the 18th, is he going to robo-sign it? How will you guys handle this?
MR. CARNEY: I’ll have to take that question to figure out how that’s done. Let me check.
It seems like there’s not enough urgency out there for the wheels to come off and for Friday to pass without agreement. But at the same time, it’s also waaaay too quiet in Washington over this.