Continuing Resolutions: Latest Action and Brief Overview of Recent Practices [March 23, 2011]   [open pdf - 249KB]

"Most routine operations of federal departments and agencies are funded each year through the enactment of 12 regular appropriations acts. Because these bills are annual, expiring at the end of the fiscal year (September 30), regular appropriations bills for the subsequent fiscal year must be enacted by October 1. Final action on most regular appropriations bills, however, is frequently delayed beyond the start of the fiscal year. When this occurs, the affected departments and agencies are generally funded under temporary continuing appropriations acts until the final funding decisions become law. Because continuing appropriations acts are generally enacted in the form of joint resolutions, such acts are referred to as continuing resolutions (or CRs). […] Since Congress and the President have not completed action on any of the 12 FY2011 regular appropriations acts, several FY2011 interim CRs have been enacted to provide more time to resolve differences within Congress and between Congress and the President. In 2010, Congress enacted four FY2011 interim CRs that sequentially extended funding from October 1, 2010, through March 4, 2011 (P.L. 111-242, P.L. 111-290, P.L. 111-317, and P.L. 111-322). These acts maintained funding at generally FY2010 discretionary spending levels. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the total annualized discretionary spending level provided in these CRs at $1,247 billion, in budget authority (or BA). In 2011, President Barack H. Obama signed two additional FY2011 interim CRs, P.L. 112-4 and P.L. 112-6, that, in total, would reduce the amount provided in 2011 by $10 billion, in BA. The two acts sequentially extends spending through April 8, 2011."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL30343
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