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New stopgap plan would extend funding deadlines to early March

Senate to take first procedural vote Tuesday night; partial shutdown looms next Saturday

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., arrives to speak to reporters about the spending negotiations in the Capitol last Friday. Johnson is scheduled to speak at the March for Life on Friday.
Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., arrives to speak to reporters about the spending negotiations in the Capitol last Friday. Johnson is scheduled to speak at the March for Life on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House and Senate leaders have agreed to extend temporary government funding in two batches, through March 1 and March 8, according to a source familiar with the plan.

The decision comes as lawmakers face a Friday, Jan. 19 deadline to clear a temporary spending bill for four of the dozen annual appropriations bills — Agriculture, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD. The remaining eight bills’ stopgap funds expire after Feb. 2 under the most recent interim spending law.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., agreed last weekend on a topline framework for the fiscal 2024 appropriations bills, which largely adhered to a deal cut last year by President Joe Biden and Johnson’s predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. 

But Johnson and Appropriations Committee leaders in both chambers were still working to divide the $1.66 trillion total among the dozen subcommittees, which must occur before they can draft the final bills. Along with various lingering policy disputes, on issues ranging from abortion to the southern border, it quickly became evident last week that more time would be needed.

Johnson negotiated replacement of some spending add-ons with more rescissions of unspent appropriations, including for COVID-19 aid. But GOP conservatives nonetheless revolted at the total topline and temporarily blocked House action on unrelated bills Wednesday in a bid to get Johnson to reconsider. But the speaker reaffirmed his support for the deal on Friday.

Hard-liners also pushed Johnson to pass a longer-term stopgap bill that went beyond April in order to use the backstop across-the-board cuts that would be triggered under last year’s debt ceiling law as leverage to extract concessions from Democrats. GOP lawmakers will get a chance to air their grievances, or support, on a members’ conference call Sunday night to discuss the plan, the source familiar with the plan said.

Schumer has teed up a shell legislative vehicle to carry the stopgap measure, with a cloture vote on the motion to proceed currently set for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Leaders will only have a few days to get through the various Senate procedural hurdles, and get the bill through the House as well, before Friday night’s deadline.

The new dates, first reported by Punchbowl News, are sandwiched around the Super Tuesday presidential and congressional primaries and caucuses on March 5 and Biden’s State of the Union address on March 7.  

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