The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a measure to keep the federal government and some of its bond-related programs funded through March 4, by which time Republicans will control the House and wield considerable bargaining power in the Senate.
The current short-term extension of federal funding that Congress approved Friday is set to expire Tuesday. Senate Democrats had been pushing for an omnibus appropriations bill that would fund budgets for federal agencies and programs — and provide earmarks — instead of the continuing resolution's approach of generally extending fiscal 2010 funding levels.
Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said Friday that by withdrawing the omnibus bill in favor of a CR, the Senate made a choice to "acquiesce in providing a bare-bones approach to governing" instead of allocating money to agencies and programs based on a lengthy budget-review process.
"The Congress owes it to the American people to demand that programs funded by their hard-earned money will be for the best purposes we can recommend based on the countless hours of work of our committees and their staff," Inouye said.
He added that extending the status quo instead of creating new funding levels would give the executive branch and agency bureaucrats control over allocations.
"Our Republican colleagues will allow the administration to determine how to spend its funds for another two months rather than letting the Congress decide," he argued. When the CR expires, he said, "We will find ourselves having to pass another 2,000-page bill that will cost more than $1 trillion or once again abdicate our authority to the Obama administration to determine how our taxpayer funds should be spent."
However, the stopgap funding measure would prevent certain federal programs from expiring or being "severely disrupted," according to committee documents. Surface transportation, one of the municipal market's most important sectors, would avoid an impending shutdown if the CR is approved by the Senate.
The continuing resolution would "ensure that state departments of transportation and local transit agencies will be able to continue their ongoing infrastructure investments," committee documents said.