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March stopgap funding bill unveiled ahead of Friday deadline

Senate will kick things off with procedural vote Tuesday night

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., arrives for the last votes of the week on Friday.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., arrives for the last votes of the week on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders released text of the new short-term patch that would continue current spending rates for federal agencies through March 1 and March 8, keeping the same bifurcated deadline structure as the previous stopgap law.

Under the current interim funding measure, budget authority for federal agencies covered by the Agriculture, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD would otherwise expire after Friday, Jan. 19. The second deadline, for the agencies funded by the remaining eight fiscal 2024 appropriations bills, is Feb. 2.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said his chamber will start the process to consider the new stopgap bill on Tuesday. The Senate has a vote scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to end debate on the motion to proceed to the shell legislative vehicle for the continuing resolution.

“To avoid a shutdown, it will take bipartisan cooperation in the Senate and the House to quickly pass the CR and send it to the president’s desk before Friday’s funding deadline,” Schumer said in a statement Sunday.

[New stopgap plan would extend funding deadlines to early March]

A summary of the bill, which would also extend a series of expiring health care provisions, is here. It would not carry a separate tax package that leaders of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees have been negotiating.

The bill mainly would continue the funding rates from the most recent CR. Exceptions are included for the National Nuclear Security Administration to spend at a faster clip so it won’t have to issue layoff notices for its uranium processing facility construction project in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and for the Federal Aviation Administration to meet mandated pay raises and ensure no adverse impacts on air safety.

House Republicans were discussing the stopgap measure on a conference call Sunday night.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who initially said he wouldn’t allow any more short-term CRs, has faced blowback from conservatives on the $1.66 trillion topline spending deal Johnson agreed to with Schumer, which they feel is too generous to federal agencies.

They’ve pushed Johnson to put a longer CR on the floor, in hopes that automatic funding cuts that would trigger April 30 could serve as leverage to get spending down and wrangle policy concessions. Some of the hard-liners have said they prefer a government shutdown to allowing current border and migration policies to continue.

“I’m not in agreement with this spending bill. I’m not even in agreement on the continuing resolution. We have a massive problem at our southern border,” Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., said on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” program. “And if you give the Democrats money to fund the government, they will continue to ignore the problem.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said on the same program that she’s told Johnson she will offer a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair — the procedure used to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. — if he puts on the floor a bipartisan Senate border deal paired with Ukraine funding, if such a deal emerges.

“It’s really an amnesty deal where Democrats are going to bring in millions and millions of illegals and turn them into Democrat voters,” Greene said. 

In a statement after releasing the stopgap bill, Johnson took credit for negotiating an “improved” topline funding deal that “reduces the worst gimmicks” included in last year’s spending agreement between McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

“Because the completion deadlines are upon us, a short continuing resolution is required to complete what House Republicans are working hard to achieve: an end to governance by omnibus, meaningful policy wins, and better stewardship of American tax dollars,” Johnson said.

The House Freedom Caucus wasn’t impressed.

“This is what surrender looks like,” they said in a statement Sunday night.

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