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The U.S. Congress will have to hustle over the next few days to complete action on a temporary spending bill for the remainder of this fiscal year, while at the same time addressing Senate and House budget plans for 2014.

Lawmakers have until the March 27 expiration of a current stopgap government funding bill before a new plan must be set for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has promised action on the bill March 18. Even if it passes, differences with the already-approved and less-complicated House version will have to be ironed out.

March 27 is still more than a week away, but the congressional recess that is supposed to start by close of business on March 22 means government shutdown pressure is on right now.

There are some important differences between the House-passed CR and the bill being debated on the Senate floor. Among them is the flexibility the Senate gives agencies to implement the sequester.

For now, both the House and Senate measures would be subject to the automatic cuts that kicked in March 1. Those would set the spending in the versions by both chambers at roughly $984 billion.

Posted in: Washington News
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