Earlier this month, Congress began considering the first of 12 annual spending bills that would fund the government for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Appropriations are off to a quicker start than usual this year. As of this week, the House and Senate have both approved at least one of the fiscal 2013 regular spending bills at the committee level, a stage that was not reached until June for fiscal 2012.
However, it is unlikely that fiscal 2013 appropriations will be completed until long after the start of the new fiscal year, an occurrence that has become routine.
As the chart above shows, Congress has missed the statutory Sept. 30 appropriations deadline for more than a decade, instead relying on continuing resolutions to keep the government from shutting down until the final bills are cleared and signed by the president.
At the same time, fewer individual bills are making it through the traditional steps of the appropriations process. Instead, appropriators often group separate bills into a single omnibus measure.
Read more at CQ.com: Brave New Frugality