New York (CNNMoney.com) - On Oct. 1, just three weeks after lawmakers return from their summer break on Tuesday, fiscal year 2011 will begin. But Congress will not have a new budget in place by then. And it may not materialize anytime soon.
It won't be the first time. In fact, tardy federal budgets have been par for the course for most of the past 35 years.
"It's pretty inexcusable even though we excuse it every year. There's no reason on earth why [lawmakers] shouldn't be able to make up their minds before the start of the fiscal year," said Rudolph Penner, a former Congressional Budget Office director who is now public policy scholar at at the Urban Institute.
Without a formal budget, Congress typically ends up passing so-called "continuing resolutions" for a month or two at a time. That essentially prevents the federal government from shutting down while lawmakers finalize how money will be allocated in the fiscal new year.