The House voted 329-91 last week to approve a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through March 27 at a level that is consistent with the $1.047 trillion cap included in the Budget Control Act. The Senate is expected to consider the measure this week.
If, as expected, the measure passes the Senate and is signed into law by the President, the CR will avert a government shutdown and delay difficult choices on spending until the election season is over. The CR is necessary because Congress did not complete any of the 12 appropriations bills necessary to fund the government in the fiscal year that begins next month.
It is encouraging that Congress is on course to avoid another government shutdown, though the practice of relying on continuing resolutions to fund the government for much of the fiscal year is troubling. By funding the government in this way, Congress places much of it on automatic pilot and avoids making responsible trade-offs such as cutting ineffective programs or adding funds to effective ones. Congress should return to the traditional appropriations process where these choices can be made more effectively.