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National News

Congress brokers deal on government spending deadlines, trying to avoid shutdown


Jennifer Shutt, Georgia Recorder
February 28, 2024

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Republicans and Senate Democrats attempting to avert a partial government shutdown brokered an agreement Wednesday to extend government funding deadlines for a little while longer.

The bipartisan deal will give Congress until March 8 to pass six spending bills lawmakers have finalized and until March 22 to pass another six bills still in negotiations that provide crucial funding for defense, health care and homeland security.

The agreement comes five months into the fiscal year, well past the deadline that lawmakers were supposed to meet for fiscal 2024. If enacted, the short-term spending extensions would avoid a partial government shutdown that would have begun for some agencies on Friday at midnight and the rest on March 8.

The House will likely put the bill up under suspension of the rules, which requires two-thirds support for passage. And the Senate will need approval of all 100 of its members, including several who enjoy holding up government funding deals, to meet that timeline.

The four top congressional leaders and the four leaders of the Appropriations committees announced the plan Wednesday evening in a joint statement.

“We are in agreement that Congress must work in a bipartisan manner to fund our government,” they wrote.

“To give the House and Senate Appropriations Committees 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,” the group of eight added.

Lawmakers announced they’ve finalized the Agriculture-FDA, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD appropriations bills, all of which were supposed to become law by Friday under the current stopgap spending law.

They’ve also brokered a deal on the Commerce-Justice-Science and Interior-Environment spending bills.

The remaining six spending bills — Defense, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch and State-Foreign Operations — would be due by March 22 under the new short-term extension.

The statement from lawmakers didn’t indicate when they would release text of the bills that have been agreed to or the short-term spending bill that Congress will need to pass before Friday to extend their deadlines a bit longer.

Short-term extensions

Congress was supposed to complete work on the dozen annual appropriations bills before the start of the current fiscal year on Oct. 1, but have passed a series of short-term funding extensions to give themselves more time to negotiate.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, and the Biden administration negotiated a deal on total spending levels for defense and non-defense discretionary spending last summer when they brokered the debt limit deal.

But House Republicans walked away from those spending levels when drafting their original batch of spending bills.

Current House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, renegotiated those spending levels with President Joe Biden in early January.

Johnson then had to make a public statement inside the U.S. Capitol about a week later, saying that he would stick to the deal, amid comments from some members of the House Republican Conference that he was prepared to walk away from it.

That agreement set funding levels at $886.3 billion for defense and $772.7 billion for domestic discretionary spending.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican; Johnson; House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries a New York Democrat; Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray, a Washington state Democrat; Senate Appropriations ranking member Susan Collins, a Maine Republican; House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger, a Texas Republican; and House Appropriations ranking member Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, announced the agreement.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.