The latest continuing resolution is scheduled to expire on Nov. 18. (File photo / Agence France-Presse)
The House has approved a stopgap spending bill to fund agencies through Nov. 18 and it now goes to President Obama for his signature.
The Senate approved the measure last week. While containing extra money for disaster relief, it generally cuts funding for government operations by 1.5 percent, compared to 2011 levels.
The measure would give the U.S. Postal Service a reprieve until Nov. 18 to make a $5.5 billion pre-payment into a retiree health care fund that was originally due last Friday. Leaders at the financially strapped mail carrier have said they cannot meet that commitment, but Tuesday's action again postpones a default.
The bill is the second continuing resolution for fiscal 2012, which began three days ago. Lawmakers have yet to wrap up work on any of the dozen annual spending measures that normally fund agencies. An existing CR expires Tuesday night.
It is doubtful that Congress will pass all 12 annual appropriations bills before the CR expires Nov. 18, said Thad Juszczak, a former federal budget officer now at consulting firm Grant Thornton. Bills covering the Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs department could win congressional approval by Nov. 18, Juszczak said, but he is more pessimistic about prospects for the others.
Another complication is that a House-Senate supercommittee is supposed to turn in its plan for up to $1.5 trillion in long-term deficit reduction by Nov. 23.