Government shutdown: What happened when Congress missed its deadline

Even though the House didn’t approve a new short-term spending bill until well after 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the federal government never officially shut down.

Why?

As David A. Fahrenthold and The Federal Eye reported Friday just hours before the deadline, the White House relied on an obscure federal rule that permits operations to continue beyond the deadline if administration officials have “a high level of confidence” that the House and Senate are on the verge of passing a short-term or permanent spending bill that the president could sign shortly thereafter.

Sure enough, a memo sent by the Office of Management and Budget at 12:01 a.m. ET reads, “We expect the House to take up the [continuing resolution] shortly and for the President to sign this CR no later than tomorrow. As a result, at this time agencies are instructed to continue their normal operations.”

It concludes: “Thank you for your cooperation and support throughout this process.”

And with that, a shutdown is averted. For now.

RELATED: Full Washington Post coverage of the 2011 government shutdown countdown

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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