Nine days! Nine days for what you might ask? The House of Representatives is scheduled to be in session for only nine daysbefore the end of the fiscal year. The Senate is not exactly overlapping the House and they have scheduled 16 days in session scheduled.

As a refresher, by the end of the fiscal year, September 30th, the House and Senate are supposed to have passed their versions of a budget, reconciled the differences, and sent allocations to the Appropriations Committees. The Appropriations Committees and their subcommittees then drafts bills (12 of them) funding government programs, send them to the House and Senate floors, pass them, reconcile any differences, send those reconciled bills back to the House and Senate floors, pass them, and then hopefully the President signs them.

So, where are we? The House and Senate never agreed to a budget so while they skipped a few steps early in the process. The Appropriations Committees in each chamber did mark up some of the 12 appropriations bills; some even made it the floor. However, the two chambers are working off very different spending limits. Most bills will not make it to the floor, some cannot even make it out of committee, much less the rest of the process. So we are heading for a continuing resolution (CR) – legislation to fund the government on a temporary basis (although sometimes that temporary basis turns into an entire year) at the previous year’s level of funding.

The question now is how long the CR will cover or how long the government will be funded on this short-term basis. The rumblings from the House Republicans seem to lean toward a shorter CR (say, two months), which would push the short-term CR’s deadline close to talks around the debt limit. Reports are that Senate Democrats seem to favor a longer-term CR. Somehow we knew they would not agree. Oh well, they have nine days in September to figure it out…