In what has become a repetitive scenario, Congress is running short on time to renew agency spending authority and avoid another partial government shutdown, what would be the third of this fiscal year.

Leaders have said they expect to release a measure soon to extend spending authority beyond the March 23 expiration of the current temporary funding measure, presumably covering all agencies and for the remainder of the fiscal year through September 30. That would be first considered in the House and then passed to the Senate, following the pattern of a series of temporary measures leading up to the current deadline. Like the others, it appears that final approval of that measure—or of another stopgap—will not occur until just before the deadline.

The current extension was approved after Congress reached a two-year agreement on overall spending levels. But another measure is needed to translate that agreement into specific spending levels for agency programs—the types of decisions that have hit deadlocks time and time again.