Congress Approves Spending Bills, Government Remains Open

Congress didn't make any of its deadlines to approve annual spending bills to keep the government's lights on for the new fiscal year.

But there won't be a government shutdown.

As has become customary on Capitol Hill, both the House and Senate Wednesday night okayed stopgap, temporary spending bills to run the federal government past October 1. That's the start of the government's fiscal year.

The interim measures allow lawmakers to hit the road and campaign for the most-competitive midterm elections in 16 years.

The legislation, known as a Continuing Resolution, or "CR," in Congress-ese, bankrolls all federal programs at current government levels. It keeps the government open for business through December 3.

At that point, lawmakers will have to approve a new CR or another bill to keep the government running.

Lawmakers aren't expected back in Washington until mid-November, two weeks after the elections.

Congress hasn't shuttered the government since 1995-96. That budget cycle featured a brutal budget standoff between then-President Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA).