Congress reached a last-minute deal late Friday, April 8, to continue funding the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, narrowly avoiding a shutdown for which agencies had been preparing. Just before midnight lawmakers agreed to a compromise spending bill that reduced the White House FY2011 budget request by more than $78 billion.
The reductions were comprised primarily of discretionary spending cuts along with a cut in defense spending.
Details must be worked out this week. To give lawmakers time to draw up the legislation, both chambers passed a quick stop-gap spending bill that will extend budget authority through April 15.
Congressional action came just before federal agencies were scheduled to shut down. All “nonessential” federal functions were set to implement plans to shut down after midnight on Friday, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Had the government shut down occurred, routine functions at federal agencies would have halted and many government contracts would have been suspended.
Government shutdowns and funding gaps were relatively routine occurrences between 1977 and 1996, according to the Congressional Research Service. Six lengthy gaps happened between fiscal years 1977 and 1980, ranging from eight to 17 days. Between FY 1981 and 1995, there were nine funding gaps, the lengthiest of which was the last, which spanned 21 days, from Dec. 16, 1995, until Jan. 6, 1996.