The House of Representatives and Senate face two deadlines in the next four weeks in which to agree on 12 major federal funding bills that will keep key parts of the government from shutting down — and neither chamber will be in session till next week. A lot is at stake if they fail to meet those challenges, which they have so far failed at twice since last fall. This includes the prospect that many government operations would be forced to close or run on greatly reduced staff with limits on some public services if they are not properly funded. A government shutdown could affect you in a number ways from disrupting travel plans to stopping certain outreach programs for veterans among others.
In November, when the lawmakers found themselves in the same position they are now in, they agreed to a stopgap process in two steps, known as continuing resolutions (CRs), that extends the timeline for passing four of the bills until January 19, with a separate vote on the rest on February 2. To avoid a partial shutdown in January and an even larger one in February, both the House and Senate must agree to either pass the bills or extend the deadlines yet again for their passage.