- Congress is considering a bill keeping the government funded through December 16
- The current short-term spending bill expires Friday
- Failure to pass a new spending bill would result in a partial government shutdown
- Congress has failed to complete the traditional appropriations process
Congress is facing yet another government shutdown threat this week as it confronts the expiration Friday of its latest short-term spending bill.
Legislators are set to consider a new spending bill that would keep the federal government funded through December 16, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia.
Congressional leaders may attach provisions to the bill ensuring funding for the Agriculture, Transportation, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development departments -- among other things -- through the end of the current fiscal year in September 2012.
Overall spending levels in the new measure would conform to the outlines of an agreement reached in Congress earlier this year.
"I hope we abide by that deal and move forward in a bipartisan way," Cantor told reporters.
The current short-term spending bill -- known as a "continuing resolution" -- was enacted October 5 as part of a deal providing an additional $2.65 billion in disaster relief needed in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and a series of tornadoes and wildfires.
In addition to early October, partial government shutdowns were also threatened during budget talks in the spring and the debt ceiling debate over the summer.
The short-term funding measures are necessary because Congress has failed to complete its full budget appropriations process, which has become a victim of sharp partisan divisions over spending priorities.
The last extension was intended to provide more time to debate and pass spending measures covering the remainder of fiscal year 2012. It's been over 15 years, however, since both chambers of Congress passed the full range of such bills.
Instead, Congress has relied on other ways to extend spending authority, such as continuing resolutions or so-called "omnibus" measures that bundle together multiple appropriations bills.