Mar 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House passes first bills to avert government shutdown until September

House Speaker Mike Johnson, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and maroon tie, speaks at a microphone in front of American flags and Rep. Elise Stefanik, wearing a gray jacket.

House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The House on Wednesday passed the first tranche of six annual appropriations bills, averting a partial government shutdown that was set to take effect on Friday.

Why it matters: Unlike the stopgap spending bills Congress has been passing since last fall, these bills keep their respective agencies funded to September.

  • The six bills were passed in a single package, known as a minibus, in a broadly bipartisan 335-85 vote.

The details: The bills, agreed to by both parties, fund the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Transportation and Veterans Affairs.

  • They include minimal spending cuts and conservative policy riders, to the chagrin of House right-wingers, in order to make them palatable to Senate Democrats and President Biden.

Between the lines: The bill was passed under a process that required a two-thirds majority but allowed GOP leadership to bypass a party-line procedural vote that right-wing hardliners likely would have tanked.

  • The right-wing Freedom Caucus opposed the bill, correctly predicting┬áthat it would receive more votes from Democrats than Republicans.
  • It's not clear whether House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) will face an attempted ouster due to the passage of the bills.

What's next: The bill heads to the Senate, while the House begins work on the next six appropriations bills.

  • Those bills, which include the massive budgets of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Pentagon, will be more controversial. The deadline to pass them is March 22.
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