Updated Feb 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Congress delays government shutdown for another week

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) talks reporters as he returns to the U.S. Capitol following meetings at the White House on February 27, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Congress passed a stopgap funding measure Thursday night, avoiding a partial government shutdown until March 8.

Why it matters: Major hurdles remain in the way of a larger deal on government spending.

  • Lawmakers now have until March 8 to pass a bundle of funding bills to stave off a partial government shutdown. A second funding deadline has been pushed to March 22.
  • The short-term funding extension marks a risky political bet for House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who was under pressure from some conservatives to pick a shutdown fight.
  • The agreement continues a trend of lawmakers punting government funding deadlines down the road as they fight over appropriations bills.

The big picture: Although lawmakers have bought themselves breathing room for the week, there are still deep divisions that could back them up against a shutdown next month.

  • Lawmakers have admitted that it will be much more difficult to find consensus on bills funding the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Those bills would need to be passed by March 22.
  • "I think Homeland Security is the most difficult, but we're making very good progress on the defense bill," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, said this week.

State of play: Johnson faced pressure from other congressional leaders and the White House to avert a shutdown. But the short-term spending agreement will anger some on his right, and the stakes couldn't be higher.

  • Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was booted from his post last year when he joined with Democrats to pass a stopgap spending measure.
  • Johnson said after meeting with President Biden and other leaders at the White House this week that avoiding a shutdown was Congress's "first responsibility."

What they're saying: Biden in a Thursday night statement welcomed the bill's passage, but noted this was "a short-term fix" and called on Congress to "do its job and pass full-year funding bills."

What's next: Lawmakers need to pass six different funding bills by March 8.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from President Biden.

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