The current continuing resolution (CR) funding government expires on March 4th. So the House will pass, early next week, an additional two-week continuing resolution (CR) with $4 billion in spending cuts. That would reduce spending at the same rate per week as the seven month CR the House passed before recess.
But the short-term CR doesn't pro-rate all the spending cuts in the seven-month version. It picks out cuts that the Obama administration has endorsed, as well as earmarks, and terminates them all at once to get to the $4 billion. So it's going to be a little hard for Democrats and the administration to say these cuts are crazy. (They can say these programs should be terminated only on October 1 rather than right away—but that's not exactly a killer argument.)
Once the House passes this short-term CR near the beginning of next week, House Republicans will be able to say they've passed a seven-month CR, and a two-week CR, either of which would keep government open. The pressure should be on Senate Democrats and the administration to accept the short-term CR or come up with a reasonable alternative to avert a government shutdown. Even liberal media are going to have a hard time blaming Republicans if Senate Democrats and/or the Obama administration drop the ball.
As I've noted repeatedly, the only reason the federal government may shut down this year is because Democrats refused to even introduce a 2011 budget last year, when they controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency. This was a political calculation: Democrats, panicked over the prospect of losing big in the midterm elections, deliberately chose to avoid a budget fight in an election year. Despite their ploy, Democrats still got their clocks cleaned, and now Republicans have a say in the appropriations process. As the Left has smugly tut-tutted over the last four years, elections have consequences. Now that the GOP controls the House, the new majority has already passed one appropriations measure that would prevent a federal shutdown. According to Kristol's reporting (and confirmed by The Hill), Republicans will soon erect a second shutdown firewall.
If a government shutdown occurs, Senate Democrats will be the responsible party.
UPDATE: Right on cue, President Obama and Nancy Pelosi are conjuring up factually inaccurate images of the post-apocalyptic dystopia a (Democrat-caused) government shutdown would inflict upon the country. Nancy, if you're so concerned about a shutdown, tell your pal Harry Reid to adopt the House-passed CR.
(Why isn't that likely to happen? Because the GOP plan makes "reckless" and "draconian" spending cuts that amount to a whole four percent of this year's projected deficit).