Not that a shutdown was even in the realm of possibility, but the Senate assured continued funding for the federal government with passage late Thursday of a "continuing resolution," which keeps the government funded at the previous year's spending levels while Congress works to pass the delayed appropriations bills.
The resolution lasts until Nov. 16, when Congress will have to pass another such measure if it does not complete the fiscal 2008 appropriations bills on time. The fiscal year expires at midnight on Sunday, and Congress has not passed any of the annual spending bills.
The continuing resolution has become routine in recent years because Congress - no matter who is in charge - can't seem to finish its spending bills on time. The general public will feel no impact from the resolution, but government agencies attempting to launch new programs or hire new staff based on fiscal 2008 budget requests have to delay new spending until the regular spending bills are done.
There was one key addition to the continuing resolution - $5.2 billion for mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, which are being built to protect U.S. soldiers against roadside bombs in Iraq.