Now that the sequester is working its way into effect, the next act of our fiscal follies takes place March 27, when the federal government will sort of shut down (it takes quite awhile to fully shut down) if congress doesn’t act to continue to fund it. They can avoid a shut down by passing a continuing resolution (CR), which will fund the government for another stop gap period. CR’s are a regular part of the way they operate, as there are parts of each budget that they continue to rangle over until finally funding them.
A failure to refund everything at once is unusual, though it happened under President Clinton back in 1995. The two parties could not come to an agreement about continued funding, so the government “shut down” for a few weeks. That is unlikely to happen this time around seemingly due to what has been called “fiscal fatigue”. Congress seems as tired of these budget battles as most of us. Not so tired as to really fix anything, but tired enough to take a little break.
The CR ties to the sequester in that in developing a continuing resolution, both houses are also talking about making sequester cuts more flexible, with the Republicans most interested in doing that with the defense spending and the Democrats with the social programs. I imagine they will refund a number of the cuts as well, so it will take awhile to see what has really been cut.
All of that together isn’t going to have much impact on solving our deficit and overall debt problems, but it will keep our creaking ship of state above water for the time being and allow me to concentrate on the other form of March Madness.
By the way, I unashamedly stole the title for this post from a fuller explanation by Ailsa Chang of NPR, The link connects to an audio that takes less than four minutes, while there is also a written version for the hard of hearing. She adds much clarity to my thumb nail version.