Congress sends continuing resolution to president’s desk

| 10/1/2009

It looks like the federal government is going to stay in business, at least for another month anyway.

The Senate passed a continuing resolution Wednesday night that would keep funding for federal programs at existing levels until Oct. 31. The funding was set to expire at midnight Sept. 30 – the end of the fiscal year – because Congress has yet to approve any of the 12 annual appropriations bills.

The House passed its version of the continuing resolution last week. As of press time Thursday, Oct. 1, the measure was awaiting a signature from President Obama.

The move gives Congress an extra 30 days to complete work on the appropriations bills, which includes the transportation bill. To date, the House has completed its versions of all 12 bills, while the Senate has completed just six.

Though the continuing resolution will keep transportation funding coming for another month, one funding measure failed to make it past the Senate.

The existing highway bill authorized the spending of $8.7 billion in transportation funding that to date had not been used. In order to make use of that spending authority – which would otherwise be eliminated when the bill expired – some in the Senate wanted to tap into the Troubled Asset Relief Fund.

They attempted to wedge a provision to do just that into the continuing resolution, but the measure failed when Senate Republicans objected to using the relief fund for transportation spending. 

– By Terry Scruton, staff writer