Mar 19, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Congress rushes to ink deal averting government shutdown

Hakeem Jeffries, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer and Mike Johnson.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.

The leaders of both parties in Congress on Tuesday announced a deal to keep the federal government funded through September and avoid a shutdown.

Why it matters: Lawmakers are now racing to draft legislative text that can be voted on before the Friday night spending deadline.

What they're saying: "An agreement has been reached for DHS appropriations, which will allow completion of the FY24 appropriations process," House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said in a statement.

  • The Department of Homeland Security budget had been the last major sticking point, with the White House rejecting lawmakers' proposal that the agency be funded by a stopgap measure.
  • Johnson said committees "have begun drafting bill text to be prepared for release and consideration by the full House and Senate as soon as possible."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) confirmed the deal in their own statements on Tuesday.

  • Jeffries said the text will be available "in the next few days."

Zoom in: The six bills, combined into what is known as a "minibus," will fund the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, State, Homeland Security and Treasury, as well as Congress itself.

  • Those are some of the largest – and most controversial – agency budgets. Lawmakers have fought bitterly over departmental policies related to abortion, diversity and border security.
  • The deal is expected to avoid the kind of drastic cuts and hardcore social and border security policy riders Johnson's right-wing hardliners had been pushing for in order to secure bipartisan support.

Between the lines: It will be a race against the clock for Congress to keep the government from shutting down at least briefly over the weekend.

  • The House has to contend with a rule that lawmakers are entitled to 72 hours to review legislation before drafting it – though bills are now routinely considered under suspension of the rules.
  • The Senate will need to reach a time agreement consented to by all 100 of its members, including many who are likely to oppose the deal.
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