It looks like federal agencies will be operating under another short-term spending bill. The Senate on Dec. 21 passed a stopgap continuing resolution (CR) to fund construction accounts and other federal programs through March 4. The vote was 79-16. The House approved the measure within hours.

The nine-week measure also would continue authorizations for surface-transportation programs through March 4. State transportation agencies and construction firms that pursue federally funded work would have preferred an extension at least through Sept. 30, when fiscal 2011 ends.

Federal Aviation Administration programs, including airport construction grants, will fare a little better. The House and Senate cleared a separate measure to carry FAA authorizations through March 31.

The bill, which won final congressional approval on Dec. 18, is the 17th aviation stopgap since September 2007, when the last multiyear FAA bill lapsed.

The new, government-wide CR would fund most programs at their 2010 levels. One exception is funding for the latest round of the Defense Dept.’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program, which would be cut about 65% from 2010’s total. That reduction reflects a scheduled drop in BRAC project volume.

Senate Democrats had tried to move a $1.11-trillion catch-all bill designed to run through Sept. 30, but Republicans blocked it.

That omnibus, which Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) abandoned on Dec. 16, would have pared many construction programs and frozen others at 2010 levels. It also included some increases.