Congressional Leaders Strike Deal To Avert Shutdown This Week

Congressional leaders have struck a deal to avert a government shutdown this week, agreeing to punt a pair of funding deadlines later into March to buy more time for spending talks.

Under the deal announced Wednesday, leaders have agreed to extend funding for six full bills covering the departments of Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, Energy, Interior, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development through March 8.

The deal would also extend funding for the remaining six annual funding bills, which cover the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, the Pentagon and other offices, through March 22.

“We are in agreement that Congress must work in a bipartisan manner to fund our government,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement on Wednesday, along with the heads of the appropriations committees in both chambers.

“To give the House and Senate Appropriations Committee adequate time to execute on this deal in principle, including drafting, preparing report language, scoring and other technical matters, and to allow members 72 hours to review, a short-term continuing resolution to fund agencies through March 8 and the 22 will be necessary, and voted on by the House and Senate this week.”

Leaders say negotiators have come to agreement on all six measures due March 8, but a senior appropriator signaled on Wednesday that there could still be some loose ends.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters on Wednesday that “there’s still one or two pieces” to iron out when asked about the first batch of bills. That includes unresolved items in areas like WIC and SNAP benefits, as well as guns.

House Republicans expect to vote on stopgap bill on Thursday. DeLauro said she expects text for a package containing the first batch of six bills to come out this weekend.

The new deal sets up a battle in the House, where Johnson faces a tough challenge in getting through another short-term stopgap measure, particularly as conservatives have pressed a for a full-year stopgap.

“I don’t think it’s the right move but you know the Speaker’s got to make a decision that he thinks is best,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said on Thursday.

“I think, like most conservatives, I’m disappointed and I’m wondering when we’re gonna fix the border,” Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.), another member of the caucus, said.

Experts have warned a full-year stopgap could trigger steep cuts to government funding, and members on both sides of the aisle have rejected the idea amid concerns over how it would impact defense and nondefense programs. But conservatives have continued to fight for the proposal in pursuit of lower overall funding levels and stronger border security.

Under the current stopgap spending bill, funding for four of the 12 full-year spending bills is set to expire Friday, while funding for the remaining eight bills is up on March 8.

The latest agreement comes as spending cardinals in both chambers have signaled more time may be needed to complete their funding work after weeks of tense bipartisan negotiations.

“I think we possibly could have been ready for next week and gotten it done. But it takes a while to process bills in both houses right now,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who chairs the subcommittee that crafts funding for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, told The Hill on Wednesday.

Baldwin’s forthcoming bill is among the eight currently scheduled to lapse March 8. Often a battleground for fights over abortion-related policies, her bill is seen as one of the tougher measures to craft.

“I think that that will give us enough time to conclude, but I think we’re at a point where most remaining issues have been resolved,” she said when asked about the prospect of a stopgap through March 22 earlier on Wednesday.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas), the top Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees Homeland Security Department funding, also said Wednesday that he and other negotiators are still working on hashing out spending for various programs under the subpanel’s umbrella and “working on riders.”

House Republicans pursued a laundry list of riders Democrats have decried as “poison pills” during spending talks, as the party seeks to secure conservative policy wins. However, Republican negotiators have acknowledged they won’t get everything they’ve asked for as both sides seek to put a bow on fiscal 2024 funding.

“I understand that we’re not going to get all the riders, but I’m hoping that there are maybe a couple that we can get some wins out,” Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), the spending cardinal for the subcommittee that crafts funding for the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, said on Wednesday.


Source Link