On March 1, the House of Representatives passed a two week stop-gap Continuing Resolution (CR) that would fund the government after current government funding runs out on March 4. The two week CR contains $4 billion in spending cuts that target programs that President Obama has already marked for elimination. On March 2, the Senate passed by a vote of 91-9 the same CR passed by the House. The CR now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.
Because the last Congress failed to pass a budget for Fiscal Year 2011, the funding for government operations has been appropriated through CRs. The House previously passed a CR to fund the government through the end of FY2011, but the $62 billion in cuts it contained were unacceptable to the Senate and President and were subsequently rejected.
Additional bicameral and bipartisan negotiations will be required to develop a proposal to fund the government beyond the two week stop-gap measure to the end of the 2011 fiscal year. If a new CR is not passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Obama by midnight on March 18, a federal government shutdown would occur.
Medicare claims processing, which is performed by private contractors, should not be immediately impacted by a shutdown.