As the budget conference committee continues to work toward an agreement that would set spending levels for the remainder of this fiscal year and fiscal 2015, House Republicans are contemplating a fallback plan: a short-term continuing resolution that would fund the government through April 15 and buy budget negotiators more time to strike a long-term deal.
According to multiple lawmakers familiar with the situation, budget negotiators in both parties are hopeful that the foundation for a long-term deal could be laid in December. But the details almost certainly won't be solidified before Dec. 13, the deadline for the conference committee to report an agreement — and the day lawmakers leave town for the holiday recess.
At the same time, the current government-funding bill expires Jan. 15, and House members don't return to Washington until Jan. 7.
To eliminate the threat of another government shutdown, and to ease the pressure on the conference committee, House Republicans expect to pass a three-month CR before leaving town on Dec. 13.
"You will see a 90-day CR happen," said one Republican lawmaker, who asked not to be identified so he could speak frankly about strategy.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner and other top lawmakers insisted they remained optimistic that the panel, led by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., can come to some agreement. Yet Boehner also said that if the conferees do not reach a deal by then, "the House will be prepared to move a CR."