**12/3 Update: Congress has approved a CR (referenced below) that will last through 12/18, allowing lawmakers additional time to attempt an omnibus spending bill that would closeout the FY11 appropriations process.**
The House of Representatives is close to a vote on a second continuing resolution (CR) that would continue the level funding of government operations through December 18th. The first CR, which expires on Friday 12/3, was necessitated on October 1st when Congress failed to pass appropriations bills in time for the beginning of the new fiscal year. A CR typically provides temporary level funding to allow Congress more time to complete the appropriations process.
At this point, Senate leaders are still pushing to complete the FY11 appropriations process with an omnibus spending bill before Congress adjourns for the year. Such a move would preserve expected increases for research agencies such as NSF and NIH, as well as congressionally directed appropriations (also knows as earmarks) for this cycle. However, emboldened by election wins and increased numbers in the next Congress, Republicans are far less interested in moving forward with FY11 appropriations bills that do not reflect their priorities. It remains possible that Democratic attempts to pass an omnibus spending bill will be filibustered in the Senate, requiring the issue to be punted to the new Congress -where agency/program increases and funding for special projects will be met with significant skepticism.