A government shutdown has been looking likely, but a two week continuing resolution may give Congress enough time to work out a deal.
Republicans have asked for a for two weeks extension that prorates the cuts they have been seeking. This will provide the government with enough money to run so Congress can work on a budget after the March 4th deadline. From Politico:
Threats of a government shutdown next week had all but disappeared by late Friday as Democrats reacted favorably to a Republican plan that would keep agencies operating past Mar. 4 while making a first down payment toward a larger budget deal.
The two-week peace is only temporary but gives House and Senate leaders through Mar 18 to try to resolve conservative demands for more than $60 billion in spending cuts, all concentrated in the second half of this fiscal year.
A first installment of $4 billion in savings would be part of the deal now and Republicans have said they will insist on $2 billion more in cuts for each additional week the talks continue past the new deadline. The novel approach is one devised by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), trying to keep pace with his large freshman class while avoiding the same sort of shutdown that so hurt Republicans in the 1990’s when they confronted then President Bill Clinton.
Senate Democrats bitterly resent Boehner’s approach, saying he is holding the government hostage, nibbling away with weekly ransom demands to placate his tea party supporters. But the speaker carefully confined his first demands to the least painful cuts, and in an amusing turnabout, Democrats rushed to take credit for an idea they had seemed ready to go to war over days before.
“The plan Republicans are floating today sounds like a modified version of what Democrats were talking about,” said a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “We’re glad they think it’s a good idea.”