With the clock ticking nearer to a deadline just hours ahead, Congress averted late on Sept. 30 a wide-ranging shutdown of many federal programs and the furlough of more than 800,000 federal workers by approving a stopgap 45-day spending measure.

But the relief on Capitol Hill, in the form of a continuing resolution, or CR. could well be short-lived, as lawmakers now face a new deadline of Nov. 17. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a floor statement that the just-enacted measure “is a bridge CR, a temporary solution, not the final destination.” 

Final congressional passage of the CR came when the Senate approved it on a strongly bipartisan 88-9 vote. The House had passed the measure earlier in the day, 335-91, thanks in large part to 209 Democrats who joined 126 Republicans in voting for it.

President Joe Biden signed the legislation shortly after the Senate action, and before the midnight deadline—the start of the 2024 federal fiscal year.

The CR funds federal programs at fiscal 2023 levels.

Construction and transportation officials said in the days leading up to the deadline that the impact of a shutdown would vary by agency and by program. They also said that some important infrastructure programs would be protected from cutbacks because of the type of federal funding that supports them.

FAA Extension Through December

The newly signed CR includes a separate, longer extension of Federal Aviation Administration programs, including the agency's Airport Improvement Program infrastructure grants.

The new FAA authorization extends through Dec. 31, about six weeks past the endpoint of the rest of the CR.

The House on July 20 approved its version of a five-year FAA reauthorization, including a $20 billion increase for the agency’s Airport Improvement Program infrastructure grants. 

That funding level is a 19% hike from the current authorization of $3.35 billion.

The Senate is lagging behind the House. 

Leaders of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on June 12 introduced a five-year bill with the same $20-billion funding allocation for the Airport Improvement Program as the House did. But Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) surprisingly postponed a committee voting session scheduled for June 15, due in part to a disagreement over training requirements for pilots. A new committee vote has yet to be scheduled.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and the panel’s top Democrat, Rick Larsen (Wash.), said in a statement after the House vote that the extension was a necessary step. 

“But make no mistake,” they added, "enacting a long-term bill as soon as possible is a top priority, as a series of short-term extensions will be detrimental to the FAA, airport infrastructure improvements and the aviation industry.”

The CR also includes an added $16 billion to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund, which had been diminished because of expenses from Hurricane Idalia, the fires in Maui and other recent natural disasters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that as of Sept 11, there have been 23 U.S. weather or climate disasters with losses that each exceed $1 billion.

Another closely watched topic is whether House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) can hold onto his speakership. 

McCarthy critic Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on Oct. 1 on CNN "State of the Union " that he planned to file a motion in the next week to remove McCarthy as speaker.

The "motion to vacate" would require a majority of the full House.

McCarthy said on CBS "Face the Nation" on Oct. 1: "I'll survive. Bring it on."