The House has passed multiple continuing resolutions to attempt to end/avoid a 17% partial government shutdown.

House Republicans on Wednesday night succeeded in passing three measures to reopen various parts of the government, following a failure to approve them on Tuesday. [...]

But Senate Democrats have indicated those proposals will not pass the upper chamber. House and Senate Democrats have been united around the idea that the House GOP’s mini-CR strategy is no substitute for a “clean” CR to fund the whole government, which has been shuttered since Tuesday. [...]

“Why would we want to do that?” Reid replied, in an attempt to make the point that all government programs were important. He later clarified in an interview with radio host Bill Press that, “the whole answer is this: Why would we want to have the House of Representatives, John Boehner, cherry-pick what stays open and what should be closed.”

Isn't the House of Representatives supposed to decide what portions of the government should be funded? (It seems it was created with that purpose)

Is it unusual for the House to pass "mini-CR's"? (I.e. in recent history since 2000, what percentage of the time were omnibus bills passed as opposed to "mini-CRs" for select departments)

Note: The House has passed the following CRs for FY2014, and except where noted, the Senate and President have vowed they won't pass or be signed respectively.

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    I would like to know why the senate/President would prefer to not fund SNAP, WIC, and other social welfare programs while accusing the House Republicans for preventing those people from receiving benefits, but I think it deserves another question.
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 13:38
  • If you meant the question in the above comment as a rhetorical question, please don't ask it. We aren't here for rhetorical questions. If you really don't know the answer, please feel free to ask. Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


The U.S. House of Representatives is the body that controls the purse of the United States government. All tax/budget/money bills must originate in the House. However, like other laws, they must also pass in the Senate and be signed by the President into law.

The President/Senate will often work with the House directly or indirectly to get a particular fiscal policy written/passed there. As a result, it might sometimes seem like a bill is originating outside of the House of Representatives, but it still must be written and passed there first. Also, the Senate will often alter or sometimes entirely rewrite House bills, but importantly, the House must have first passed something. In this regard, you'll often sometimes see the House pass essentially an empty shell of a bill, kicking the can to the Senate to actually flesh it out. This often occurs when there's a slim house majority but a significant Senate majority. The House will simply pass something innocuous that they can get bare support for, simply to qualify that it "originated" there, and then the Senate, with broader party control, might be able to get more of the party's goals worked in.

A "CR" literally means "continuing resolution". Fiscal policy usually has expiration dates attached, requiring a new bill to be written and passed to supersede it in the future. When those expiration dates come around and the parties cannot reach an agreement on how to replace the fiscal policy, they will often simply do a temporary CR just to keep the status quo in place. The idea being that eventually they will craft an actual replacement. The problem over the last decade or so is that neither party has been willing to compromise with the other enough to actually do things like create a real budget, so it's just been one CR after another, ad infinitum.

More recently, the Republican party was able to wrest enough control over both bodies and the Presidency after the 2016 election cycle that they have now been able to pass some significant fiscal policy legislation such as a tax reform bill, and soon an actual budget, presumably. Essentially, when neither side will come to the table, you only get real legislation if one side or the other has enough of a majority to basically cram it down the throat of the opposing party.

This, of course, is not what the Framers intended. In an ideal world, cooler heads would prevail and both sides of the aisle would come together to craft legislation that meets the needs of the American people, at large, and accomplish goals on both sides. Even though, a law like the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is either a runaway success or a miserable failure depending on who you talk to and what day of the week it is, it is without question that the most successful portions of the law are actually those pieces where true compromise was reached. In general, both pure conservatism and pure liberalism lead to disastrous effects. Having one extreme temper the other usually results in common-sense policy that's actually effective.


This is a political question.

What I mean is that the answer to what the House (or Congress) is suppose to do is inherently political. They are to do what the politics of the day and the constructs of the Constitution allow them to do (or not do).

They should operate and pass bills (funding and otherwise) how ever possible and efficient according to the politics of the day. If the Congress and the President agree on 100% of the budget, it wouldn't make sense to pass a whole bunch of "mini CRs" and instead a single omnibus would make sense. However if the President and Congress agree on very little and an attempt to find common ground is easier through CR's and separate bills, then that option should be just as likely.

Isn't the House of Representatives supposed to decide what portions of the government should be funded? (It seems it was created with that purpose)

No, not alone.

The House's "power of purse" role, as it were, is a function of raising revenue (as your article points out). Appropriations, or how the revenue gets spent, is still bound by law (again, from your article), specifically BOTH houses of Congress agreeing and the President signing a bill, although even the President can be rendered unnecessary if the Congress chose to override any veto.

All that being said, there is nothing to stop the House (or the Senate) from passing whatever CRs or mini-CRs they choose and appropriating as they each see fit. At the end of the day they each (along with the President, but not necessarily) need to come to an agreement. In that way, how they get there is indeed political.

  • And do you have an answer to the question if these "mini-CRs" are unusual? In the last 10 congresses, what percentage were omnibus bills? (Or is the Senate's request for a bill to fund all the government the unusual occurrence.
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 14:40
  • @user1873 - You want me (or someone else) to research how many times this has happened in the last 20 years? This seems like something you could do. Also, I'm not sure why the down vote, at best my answer is incomplete, not wrong.
    – jsb1109
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 14:53
  • @jbs1109, I didn't downvote, but yes I want you to list what percentage of omnibus bills vs. Mini-crs have been passed. I would prefer a sample size of at least 10 years (this would include 2007 when the House was controlled by Democrats), but if you just include 2007 I would find it acceptable.
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 15:02
  • Here, I[ will even help](thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app09.html). This is the only one I could find with a quick search, but it has appropriations bills back to 2000.
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 15:09
  • @user1873 - Interesting, well hopefully you'll let us know what you come up with. Also, 10 years would be 5 Congresses
    – jsb1109
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 19:42

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