Deal reached to avoid government shutdown

Congressional leaders have reached a deal to avert a government shutdown next week, landing on a two-step stopgap bill that will keep the lights on in Washington into March, according to three sources familiar with the proposal.

Under the deal, the new government funding deadlines will be March 1 and March 7. The agreement comes ahead of Friday’s shutdown deadline, and a second deadline on Feb. 2.

Text of the continuing resolution is expected to be posted online Sunday evening, according to a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Republican leadership is scheduled to hold a conference call with members Sunday at 8 p.m., which will likely include a discussion about the plan to avert a government shutdown.

The proposal —  which the House and Senate must approve by Friday night to avoid a partial shutdown — will give the House and Senate more time to complete work on the 12 appropriations bills. Congressional leaders announced a deal on top-line spending numbers last weekend, but appropriators need more time to hash out particulars in each funding bill.

The announcement of the two-step continuing resolution is sure to anger conservative House Republicans, who are traditionally opposed to stopgap legislation and have been averse to GOP leadership cutting deals with Democrats.

The two-step approach, however, is one that was largely favored by House conservatives during the shutdown showdown in November. The structure was seen as a way to avoid a massive, whole-of-government omnibus funding bill in December, which Republicans typically abhor.

As an added wrinkle, hardliners have been demanding that border security be included in any government funding effort, pinning the politically prickly topic to the already convoluted shutdown showdown.

Those dynamics mean that the deal will likely require significant Democratic support to get over the finish line in the House.

The backing of another two-step continuing resolution, meanwhile, marks a reversal of sorts for Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who vowed in November not to put another stopgap bill on the floor.

“The House Republican Conference is committed to never being in this situation again. I’m done with short-term CRs,” he said during a press conference shortly before the House approved a two-step stopgap bill.

At a Wednesday press conference, however, with the shutdown clock ticking, he said he was “not ruling out anything.”

House Republicans this week had been floating different types of stopgap bills. One option was a long-term continuing resolution, which would have triggered a one percent across-the-board cut, a mechanism included in the debt limit deal then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) struck with President Biden last year.

Johnson asked a group of moderate Republicans if they could support a full-year continuing resolution during a meeting in his office Friday morning, and nearly all lawmakers said no, according to one attendee. He then hinted at a continuing resolution that would last through February or March to buy more time to complete work on all 12 spending bills, the source added.

News of the agreement comes less than one week after Congressional leaders rolled out an agreement for top-line spending numbers, a significant step towards completing the appropriations process through regular order.

The deal sets top-line spending at $1.59 trillion, plus around $69 billion in additional budget tweaks — largely in line with the spending caps included in the debt limit deal McCarthy struck with Biden last year that outraged Republicans. Johnson has highlighted some tweaks to that agreement, including accelerating clawbacks of IRS mandatory funding and additional clawbacks of unspent pandemic funds.

Conservative House Republicans came out against the deal, urging Johnson to craft a different plan that included deeper spending cuts. On Friday, however, the Speaker said the agreement “remains” in place.

But even as Johnson stuck by the deal, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good (R-Va.) insisted that he believed Johnson was still “legitimately considering alternatives.”

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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