Congress on Thursday (December 21) delayed by a month the threat of a partial government shutdown, agreeing to the latest in a series of temporary funding extensions, this one carrying through January 19.

Legislators approved a “continuing resolution” measure that essentially continues agency spending at current levels, just a day before the prior temporary extension would have expired. Failure to act would have sent many federal employees home on unpaid furloughs while requiring most to continue working, although unpaid for the meantime.

In passing the stopgap, Congress set aside issues that for months have held up final approval of a budget for the fiscal year that started October 1, including various immigration, health care and disaster relief issues, in addition to general spending levels. The “clean” measure moved quickly through the House and Senate on the same day when it became clear that no agreements could be reached on those issues in the short time before Congress was recessing until after the holidays.

Once Congress returns, the situation will be similar to that agencies found themselves before with yet another CR set to expire January 19. Many agencies have updated in recent weeks their contingency plans for who would stay on the job and who would be furloughed in the event of a partial shutdown. Should one occur, those who continue working would be guaranteed to be paid when funding is restored; precedent is that those furloughed also were later paid as normal but Congress and the White House would have to specify that.