In a colloquy on the Senate floor with Republican senators Tuesday morning, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not to abandon his earlier agreement to bring appropriations bills to the floor for debate this year, saying “solving the appropriations problem, solving the fiscal problems, creating an environment in which the private sector in this country is willing to create more jobs—and failing to do that would, in the words of the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, be ‘destructive.’”
Sen. Alexander said: “This is such a breathtaking assertion by the majority leader that it's hard to grasp. Here we are in a fiscal mess; everybody [agrees]. … Everybody acknowledges, as well, that while the rest of the world is in trouble we're just in a little less trouble. And that we can get out of our trouble more easily than the rest of the world and that the single-biggest decision about whether the United States deals with its fiscal crisis and gets the economy moving again is whether the president and Congress can govern….In other words, this isn't out of our hands. This isn't out of our control. All we have to do is come to some agreement about how much money we can spend, reform the taxes, reduce the debt, control entitlement spending--and this country will take off like a rocket.”
If the Congress fails to pass the annual appropriations bills before Sept. 30, the government will likely operate under a continuing resolution (also known as a “C.R.”), which means the government is simply funded by extending previous spending levels, rather than taking up and debating new bills that would allow the Senate to cut spending and set priorities.