There does not appear to be much appetite left in Washington, D.C., for a showdown to address the impending March 27 government shutdown. After weeks of stalled negotiations and partisanship, across-the-board spending cuts went into effect through the largely fabricated sequester drama on March 1. The next step in a series of deadlines for politicians is March 27, when the federal government runs out of money.
However, it appears that politicians are eager to pass a continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown, allocating the necessary funds for the federal government to run until September 30.
The partisanship lies in how the bills deal with the cuts from sequestration.
The House Republican bill works to lessen the negative impact of the sequester to the Pentagon and the Department of Veteran Affairs, allowing for the agencies to have additional flexibility in spreading out the mandated spending cuts. In an effort to garner some level of bipartisan support, the bill also includes funding for the Affordable Care Act.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expressed cautious optimism in reaching a deal, but cited a bipartisan resolution would carry more weight if flexibility was also offered to other agencies to better deal with the sequester cuts.
Politicians are optimistic that a deal can be reached before Easter weekend, providing enough time for a continuing resolution to be adopted. In D.C. time, two weeks seems like an eternity for politicians who have been consistently working until the 11th hour to find common ground. Until a continuing resolution is passed however, it is far too soon to say that politicians have reached a bipartisan agreement to avert a government shutdown.
This resolution will not see the end of what feels like one battle after another in Washington; sometime this summer, Congress and President Obama will fight over increasing the U.S. Treasury Department’s borrowing limit. Then, October 1 will start the fight to create a budget blueprint for the next fiscal year.
Looking ahead, there is talk of Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's expected release of a blueprint for balance in 10 years, bouncing around an idea to increase savings by raising the Medicare age from 55 to 56 years of age.
The question remains unanswered as to whether or not all these fights will provide the spark for politicians to develop a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit in the long-term.