Following the Democratic Senate’s recent failure to push through a massive, 1,924-page omnibus spending bill stuffed with runaway spending and pork, cooler heads seem to be prevailing. The Senate now appears poised to pass a basic continuing resolution that would freeze fiscal year (FY) 2011 discretionary spending at FY 2010 levels until March 4, when the next Congress will have the opportunity to pare back spending.

Last week, a Heritage Foundation analysis stated that an acceptable continuing resolution should (a) spend no more than last year’s level, (b) not shift funds to new Democratic priorities, (c) exclude additional advanced appropriations that bind future Congresses to spend money, and (d) exclude unrelated government expansions and regulations.

While not perfect, the new legislation roughly meets these criteria. The major exception is the bill’s underfunding of defense and its provision using some of the savings from an expiring program (the 2010 census) for new spending rather than deficit reduction. On the plus side, the bill contains language freezing non-military government salaries for the next two years.

The March 4 expiration date will provide the 112th Congress with time to examine the 25 percent hike in non-emergency discretionary spending since 2007 (not even counting stimulus funding) and write new spending bills paring back the growth of government. Taxpayers will be watching.