While the deadline for Congress to avert across-the-board federal spending cuts known as the sequester just passed, another congressional deadline is already on the horizon. Lawmakers are now looking to March 27. By that day, Congress must agree on how to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year, or face a federal shutdown. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks about some of the details behind the new deadline.
On another Congressional deadline on March 27: "Not only is that just four weeks away, but the real deadline is closer to the weekend of March 22. That is when their next Congressional recess is set to begin. It's the big two-week spring recess for Congress... But nothing focuses the mind like a deadline. And so they're really going to try to get it done by March 22 or that weekend."
On whether the House will actually vote on a federal spending bill next week: "The House Republicans have written a bill to finish spending for the year — for the last seven months of the fiscal year — from April 1 through September. For the Military and Veterans Affairs Department, they would write a full detail appropriations bill like some of the agencies have come to expect over the years. But for all of the domestic agencies, they would essentially continue this freeze in spending, and then they would subject all of it to that sequester number -- $85 billion over the last seven months."
On whether the sequester cuts fit into any deals to fund the government after March: "I think it's pretty clear that the Republicans are locked in on the notion that whatever they do to fund the government for the rest of the year, that $85 billion cut should be applied... now let's remember that all of the $85 billion in cuts is about the discretionary portion of the budget, the part that Congress actually has control over. Very little, if any of this discussion is about entitlements that are really the driver of the long-term deficit problem."
On whether lawmakers will meet the March 27 deadline: "I think we should expect them to meet this deadline. As best as I can tell, there is very little appetite either at the White House or in the Republican ranks, or the Congressional Democratic ranks for allowing the government to shutdown. I would look for some kind of deal by the end of March that would at least get us to September."
Listen to the full analysis here.