Mar 3, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Congress unveils roadmap to averting partial government shutdown

House Speaker Mike Johnson, wearing a blue suit, white shirt, red tie and glasses in a TV studio at the Capitol.

House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.

Congressional leaders on Sunday announced a package of a half dozen annual appropriations bills set to be voted on next week.

Why it matters: It sets the stage for Congress to avoid a partial government shutdown on March 8.

  • Top Democrats and Republicans in both chambers announced agreements on bills to fund a raft of less controversial government agency budgets until Sept. 30.
  • The agencies funded by the bills include the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Transportation and Veterans Affairs.
  • The bills feature slight funding increases or reductions but avoid the drastic cuts House Republican hardliners had been pushing for.

Yes, but: Lawmakers have not announced agreement on the remaining six appropriations bills, which include the massive and controversial budgets of the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services.

  • Funding for those agencies is set to run out on March 22, giving Congress just a few weeks to work out the remaining conflicts and pass the bills.

What they're saying: Democrats celebrated the lack of significant cuts or right-wing policy riders, while Republicans touted cuts to the EPA, FBI and ATF, as well as certain environmental and law enforcement policy victories.

  • "Even with divided government and a historically small House majority, House Republicans have worked hard to successfully move the policy and spending priorities of the federal government away from the previous Pelosi-Schumer FY23 appropriations," said Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) lauded the fact that Democrats headed off cuts to nutritional benefits for women and children, as well as restrictions on abortion.
  • "We are proud to be keeping the government open without cuts or poison pill riders," Schumer said.

Between the lines: While the bills are likely to sail through the House under a process requiring a two-thirds vote, Johnson will almost certainly face fierce backlash from the right.

  • The right-wing Freedom Caucus has urged him to allow a government shutdown rather than agree to government spending bills that don't include deep cuts and restrictions on social policy and law enforcement.
Go deeper