Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Government Shutdown Could Occur Even If Budget Deal Is Reached

Even if Congressional negotiators reach a deal by the end of the week on a budget resolution that would last through the fiscal year, the government could still shut down, at least for a short period of time.

While leaders in both parties continue to debate everything from how much money to cut from current spending levels to which programs should get the ax, there remains some dispute over the procedural process to pass the final bill.

Under rules adopted by the House Republicans, the chamber must allow for 72 hours of debate before voting on legislation. There is disagreement as to whether the rule means that, literally, 72 hours have to pass. If that’s the case, then the window to avert a government shutdown has already passed. Another interpretation, offered by GOP officials in the past, is that three business days must expire before a vote, meaning that if parties agree to a deal by the end of Wednesday they will still be allowed to vote on it on Friday.

With talks still ongoing, the latter scenario seems implausible. But as of Wednesday morning, House GOP leadership wasn’t yet ready to commit to waiving the 72-hour rule. 

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