President Obama has signed a stopgap funding bill that will keep federal agencies running through March 11. The continuing resolution, which Obama signed on March 6, was necessary because most of the agencies were operating under an earlier "CR" that expired on that date. The House on Feb. 25 had passed a $410-billion appropriations package that would fund those agencies through Sept. 30, the end of the 2009 fiscal year, but things bogged down in the Senate.

The developments affect most of the federal departments and agencies, including many that oversee important construction programs, such as the Transportation, Energy and Interior departments, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and General Services Administration.

Last fall, Congress did approve funding for the full fiscal 2009 for the Depts. Of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs. But budgets for all of the other agencies were wrapped into a CR that carried through March 6. In general, those agencies' programs were funded at 2008 spending levels.

One of the issues that hung up the $410-billion House-passed bill in the Senate was opposition by some lawmakers to an estimated $7.7 billion in earmarks for specific projects or activities.

The Senate was scheduled to begin voting on amendments to the $410-billion measure on March 9. But if any of those amendments are approved, the legislation would have to go back to the House for another vote.