Mar 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Congress avoids shutdown with tougher battle ahead

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, center, speaks during a news conference following the weekly Democratic caucus luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.

Photographer: Tierney L. Cross/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lawmakers passed a $460 billion bundle of government funding bills Friday night to avert a government shutdown, but another deadline looms in just weeks.

Why it matters: Congress will have to pass another batch of spending bills by March 22, and lawmakers have conceded that those negotiations will be a tougher lift.

  • The funding measures passed by the Senate on Friday in a 75-to-22 vote included appropriations for agriculture, housing, transportation and energy. They amount to just under half of government funding.
  • But thornier fights over funding for things like the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security are on the horizon.
  • The House passed the bills on Wednesday.

The big picture: Passing the funding for about half of the government is a win for both Democratic and Republican leadership, with some House conservatives eager to pick a shutdown fight.

  • The House Freedom Caucus this week lobbied Republicans to vote against the funding package, arguing it "surrenders Republicans' leverage" to force policy changes on border security and immigration.
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) bucked the pressure from his right, instead partnering with Democrats to both pass a stopgap funding bill last week and the spending bills this week.
  • Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle last week made clear at a meeting with President Biden that their priority was to avoid a shutdown.

Reality check: While lawmakers bought themselves some breathing room, there are just two weeks left before they could be back up against the wall of a government shutdown.

  • The debate over funding of the Department of Homeland Security is sure to be a knockdown, drag-out fight, with immigration and border security emerging as a top election year issue.

Go deeper: Congress unveils roadmap to averting partial government shutdown

Go deeper