WASHINGTON, March 3, 2011 -- President Barack Obama signed legislation last night that will keep the government funded and running through March 18.

The new continuing resolution cuts $4 billion from the previous continuing resolution funding. None of the $4 billion is taken from Defense Department programs. Extending the continuing resolution also means that servicemembers and veterans have until March 18 to file for 'stop-loss' funds if their service was involuntarily extended between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009.

Obama said he wants negotiations between the executive and legislative branches to continue. He called on Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress to begin meeting as soon as possible with the vice president, the White House chief of staff and the budget director.

"We believe and hope that an initial meeting will take place very soon," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday, adding that there is room for compromise.

DoD officials have been warning for weeks of the effects a year-long continuing resolution would have on the department. It would mean a $23 billion shortfall in the Fiscal Year 2011 defense budget, and will preclude many contract starts.

The president wants to avoid continuing two-week extensions, and wants a long-term deal with Congress, Carney said.

"We look forward to negotiations on a long-term deal, through the end of the fiscal year, so that we can do the country's business efficiently and effectively; because it is no way to run a business or a government to wonder every two weeks if we're going to be able to keep in operation the following week," he said. "So the president very much looks forward to these negotiations beginning to take place towards a long-term deal, and he believes that common ground can be found."

Page last updated Fri March 4th, 2011 at 06:35