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Top Congressional leaders prepare for votes on a stop-gap spending bill

Congressional leaders have agreed to a spending bill that would extend current funding levels through March 1 and March 8.
Catie Dull
/
NPR
Congressional leaders have agreed to a spending bill that would extend current funding levels through March 1 and March 8.

Updated January 14, 2024 at 8:42 PM ET

Congressional leaders have agreed on a short term spending bill to give lawmakers more time to write and pass year-long spending bills. Several agencies and government functions are set to run out of funding at the end of the day on Friday.

The extension will adhere to the current two-tier funding deadline structure that leaders agreed to last year with new deadlines set at March 1 and March 8. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said the Senate will vote Tuesday on the first procedural steps to pass the bill.

"To avoid a shutdown, it will take bipartisan cooperation in the Senate and the House to quickly pass the CR and send it to the President's desk before Friday's funding deadline," Schumer said in a statement released Sunday. "I thank the leaders from both sides, and particularly the members of the Appropriations Committee, for their commitment to keeping the government open and working for the American people."

Schumer said the legislation is the result of bipartisan negotiations with all four top Congressional leaders.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., touted concessions from Democrats including plans to rescind some unspent COVID relief funds and speed up already planned cuts to the IRS. He also repeated his argument that the end goal is to avoid wholesale extensions of current funding.

"Because the completion deadlines are upon us, a short continuing resolution is required to complete what House Republicans are working hard to achieve: an end to governance by omnibus, meaningful policy wins, and better stewardship of American tax dollars," Johnson said in a statement.

The goal is to allow members of the appropriations committees to work out the details of spending bills that adhere to the $1.6 trillion spending cap deal leaders reached last week. That agreement set the top line for how much Congress can spend on defense and non-defense programs for fiscal year 2024, which ends in September.

The March 1 deadline will apply to four of the regular 12 appropriations bills:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • Energy and Water Development
  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.


The March 8 deadline will apply to the remaining bills:

  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
  • Defense
  • Financial Services and General Government
  • Homeland Security
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
  • Legislative Branch
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

A smoother path in the Senate than in the House

Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have both repeatedly committed to passing a spending bill quickly to avoid the threat of a government shutdown. Some senators may choose to slow the process but the stop-gap is very likely to pass the Senate with significant bipartisn support.

The process in the House is less clear. Speaker Mike Johnson faces significant opposition from far right members who have rejected both the prospect of a short term stop gap and the broader top line spending deal.

Johnson will have to pass any stop gap with significant support from Democrats, a move that could put his speakership at risk of a challenge from far-right Conservatives.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Deirdre Walsh
Deirdre Walsh is a congressional correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk.
Claudia Grisales
Claudia Grisales is a congressional correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.