Today, President Obama signed the sixth FY2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) extension, which will keep the government running through April 8. The House passed the resolution on Tuesday (271-158) and the Senate passed the bill (87-13) yesterday. This latest CR cuts $6 billion from the previous CR level: $3.5 billion by cutting or terminating 25 non-DoD programs for which no funds were requested or were recommended for termination in the president’s FY2012 budget, and $2.6 billion by eliminating funding for more than 50 earmarked programs and projects (none from the Department of Defense).
The higher number of no votes in both the House and the Senate than were registered on the previous CR signals an increasing dissatisfaction on both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans are frustrated with the inability of congressional negotiators and the White House to reach agreement on funding the Government for the rest of FY2011. Congressional leaders, sensing this frustration, realize that, in the absence of any progress toward agreement, the next vote to extend the CR will likely draw even more negative votes. And, another vote to extend the CR that collects even less support would signal a hardening of positions on both sides, making it more difficult to achieve a consensus on a final bill. Therefore, leaders are speaking more openly about moving the negotiations forward to complete a deal in the next two weeks or at least by the beginning of the spring recess on April 15.