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Congress's Use of Continuing Resolutions Is a Common Practice Congress's Use of Continuing Resolutions Is a Common Practice

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Congress's Use of Continuing Resolutions Is a Common Practice


Stack of money(iStockphoto)

More often than not, lawmakers in Congress find themselves in the funding situation they are in now. It's the end of the fiscal year and few, if any, of the 12 major appropriations bills to fund the government beginning Oct. 1 have been passed, much less sent on to the president for his signature. To keep the government going, at least until they can work out a deal to pass the 12 bills in some form, they have to pass a continuing resolution, or resolutions.

It's now the end of the fiscal year and, with Congress unable to make progress on approrpriations before the Sept. 30 deadline, the House and Senate are poised to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government going through March 27, 2013, at a Budget Control Act-approved annual rate of $1.047 trillion.


The graphs below demonstrate how these stopgaps have become standard practice. The first graph shows the number of continuing resolutions passed by Congress and signed by the president in each fiscal year since 2000. The second graph shows the time between the enactment of a CR and a subsequent CR, as represented by color blocks (hover over each block for details).

Fiscal 2011 is noteworthy for the number of days after the end of the previous fiscal year that the federal government relied on funding through continuing resolutions. Going to the other extreme, Congress passed the most continuing resolutions for fiscal 2001, but many of them were for only one day. 

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