All eyes are on Capitol Hill as the continuing resolution (CR) that funds the federal government expires on Friday, April 8, at midnight. Since October 1, 2010 the federal government has been operating without a budget but instead has been functioning under a CR, which keeps government agencies and programs funded in the absence of a formal budget that has been signed into law. Since last fall, Congress has passed six stop-gap continuing resolutions to keep the Federal government functioning. This is the longest period in 14 years that the government has operated without a budget.
Where are we now? Monday ends with the possibility of a government shutdown increasing as tensions rise during budget talks. This comes as House Republican leaders made several statements accusing Democrats of not cooperating and blaming them if there is a government shutdown. House Republican leaders called for a party caucus on the eve of a White House meeting for Tuesday morning. Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney said, “He (Obama) remains confident that if we, together, roll up our sleeves and get to work very quickly, that we can find a compromise. But time is of the essence, and that is why he is calling this meeting.” In addition, according to the new transparency rules outlined by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, the bill has to be printed and available for three days before the House can consider it on the House floor.
Congress has allowed five government shutdowns in our recent past. The first three occurred in the 1980s and the government failed to be funded for technically only a handful of hours in each of the three instances. The fourth shutdown occurred over the Columbus Day three-day weekend and all of our government was fully funded and up and running by the Tuesday after the Monday holiday. The fifth government shutdown occurred at the end of 1995 into 1996. Several branches ofour federal government deemed “noncritical” were asked to stay home for several days.