Were we in budget limbo?

WERE WE IN BUDGET LIMBO?…. President Obama signed the stop-gap spending measure into law yesterday afternoon, clearing the way for passage of the final budget deal for the fiscal year later this week. But under the circumstances, the natural question is, “What do you mean, ‘yesterday afternoon’?”

We’ve been told, repeatedly, that the shutdown deadline was Friday at midnight. And yet, as a technical/procedural matter, that wasn’t quite as literal as some (including me) believed. In fact, the House didn’t even bring up the stop-gap extension until 12:05 a.m., and didn’t pass it until 12:28 a.m.

So, were we in some sort of budget limbo yesterday morning? National Journal had a helpful report on this.

Seems the answer is no, according to a directive issued just before midnight Friday to executive departments and agencies by Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew.

“While the current continuing resolution [CR] expires at midnight tonight, Congress has indicated that it has reached agreement on a funding bill for the rest of the fiscal year,” stated the memo.

It went on: “Earlier this evening, the Senate passed a short-term CR that will extend current funding levels until the full-year bill can be passed and enacted next week. We expect the House to take up the CR shortly and for the president to sign this CR no later than tomorrow.

“As a result, at this time agencies are instructed to continue their normal operations,” Lew’s memo instructed.

Apparently, the government didn’t shut down, even though the midnight deadline lapsed, because OMB was confident the funding would, in fact, pass. Since there was no point in shutting everything down for a half-hour, the confidence that the deal was in place was good enough to keep the lights on.