Obama Puts Pen to Bill to Keep Government Running

Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:00pm

The possibility of a government shutdown was officially taken off the table, at least for this week, when President Barack Obama signed into law a two-week stopgap spending bill Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate voted 91-9 just hours before to send the measure to the president for his signature. The short-term funding bill, which runs through March 18, was crafted by House Republican leaders and includes $4 billion in spending cuts.

Although the measure averts a shutdown when the current continuing resolution expires Friday, the path forward is unclear, as both sides have hardened their positions in recent days.

Obama and Congressional Democrats have cautioned that they will not be receptive to any GOP moves to pass a series of short-term funding measures, which Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) threatened this week as a method for forcing the deep spending cuts Republicans are seeking.

The House passed a bill last month making $61 billion in spending cuts and funding the government through the end of the fiscal year, but Senate Democrats have indicated that the measure is a non-starter in their chamber.

Obama announced Wednesday that he has tasked Vice President Joseph Biden with leading spending negotiations among Congressional leaders.