Passing the budget hot potato
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BOB MOON: The 109th Congress reconvenes today to begin its final session. One of the must-dos on its list: Figuring out how to fund most of the government. Congress has completed just two of 11 spending bill for the fiscal year that started October 1. All government functions except defense and homeland security are now operating on a temporary budget, but that expires this week. And as Marketplace's Hillary Wicai reports, the Republican leadership is expected to boot the tough choices on the permanent budget to the Democrats.
HILLARY WICAI: Congress can't just leave the government unfunded, so at the very least it'll have to pass another stopgap spending measure known as a Continuing Resolution.
Some say punting the bulk of the a€˜07 budget to the Democrats could keep the new leadership from working on its priorities, like minimum wage.
But Budget analyst Stan Collender says it also sets up the possibility of an early standoff between President Bush and the new Congress. He says it could go like this: Republicans pass a bill this week that keeps the government funded until mid-February, and then . . .
STAN COLLENDER: Democrats deciding that they don't want to send the President individual bills that he can veto, so the Democrats then package all those bills into a single piece of legislation, send it to the President on midnight of February 15 and basically dare him to veto it.
The President is firm about not going over the $873 billion discretionary budget cap, which both the Republican controlled Senate and House were on track to do.
In Washington, I'm Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.