The New Fiscal Year and Continuing Resolutions
Congress’ annual objective is to complete action on all 12 appropriations bills, as well as Budget Reconciliation legislation by October 1, when the new fiscal year begins. However, due to escalating disagreements and partisanship on fiscal policy, it is rare for Congress to complete action on all 12 bills by October 1. The last time was 1996.
Instead, Congress often passes stop-gap measures, called “continuing resolutions,” to keep agencies operating at a particular level of funding (often the previous year’s funding level, with some adjustments, or the lower of House- or Senate-passed bills) while they endeavor to complete appropriations action.
Sometimes, multiple CRs are adopted before final agreement on appropriations is reached. And occasionally, political gridlock prevents adoption of a CR and the federal government shuts down. Lengthy government shutdowns occurred in 1995 and 2013. (For more information, see: http://fedweb.com/government-shutdown/).