With a short stopgap spending bill set to lapse on Dec. 21, Senate Democrats have introduced a new measure that would extend funding for federal construction accounts and other programs through March 4.
It also would continue authorizations for surface-transportation programs through that date.
If the full Senate passes the proposed nine-week continuing resolution (CR), which was introduced on Dec. 19, it would go to the House for a vote.
The new CR would fund most programs at their fiscal 2010 spending levels. There are some exceptions, such as the latest round of Defense Dept.'s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) account, which would be cut about 65% from its 2010 total, reflecting a scheduled decrease in the volume of BRAC projects.
Democrats have turned to short extensions after Senate Republicans blocked a $1.11-trillion catch-all spending package that would have funded federal agencies through next Sept. 30, the end of fiscal year 2011.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on the Senate floor on Dec. 16 that he was abandoning the nine-month omnibus.
That now-dropped omnibus would have cut many construction programs and frozen others, but also increased some accounts.
Reid said that he had been told he had enough support to pass the big omnibus bill. But then, he added, nine Republican Senators "walked away from the ability for us to complete the legislation."
Reid didn't name the Senators who he said had changed their positions on the bill.
The House on Dec. 8 had passed a $1.09-trillion CR that would run through Sept. 30. But Reid said he would not bring that House bill to a vote in the Senate after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated he wouldn't support moving forward quickly on it.
McConnell said that the reason Reid didn't have enough votes to pass the omnibus was that Republican Senators "increasingly felt concerned about the way we do business." He added, "For many of our members it was not so much the substance of the bill but the process."