**Update 3/2, the House and Senate have agreed to a two week extension (along the lines described below) temporarily avoiding a government shutdown at the end of the week.**
Congress and the White House have five days to agree on a path forward on FY11 appropriations, given that the continuing resolution (CR) that is currently funding government operations expires on March 4th. The House and Senate remain far apart on a permanent plan to fund the remainder of FY11. As a result, a two-week CR extension is currently being discussed as a means for buying additional time to reach a permanent agreement. The short-term extension would cut $4 billion from current funding levels, largely coming from an early end to eight programs proposed for elimination in FY12 by President Obama, and the termination of $2.7 billion of earmarks. The bill also provides temporary relief for the Pell Grant program, maintaining the maximum award level at $5,550 for the coming academic year. House and Senate leaders appear to support the two week extension, as the alternative would likely be a shutdown of the government at the end of the week.