House and Senate negotiators reach agreement to prevent shutdown

<span>Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress met with Joe Biden yesterday at the White House.</span><span>Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress met with Joe Biden yesterday at the White House.Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

With government funding partially expiring on Friday, House and Senate negotiators have reached an agreement to prevent a shutdown.

In a joint statement, congressional leaders of both parties confirmed that the House and the Senate would vote this week on a short-term funding bill to allow lawmakers more time to finalize full-year appropriations bills. The leaders said that negotiators have already reached a deal on six full-year spending bills, and the remaining six bills are expected to be finalized before 22 March.

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“To give the House and Senate appropriations committee adequate time to execute on this deal in principle, including drafting, preparing report language, scoring and other technical matters, and to allow members 72 hours to review, a short-term continuing resolution to fund agencies through March 8 and the 22 will be necessary, and voted on by the House and Senate this week,” the leaders said.

Funding previously would have expired at 12.01am on Saturday for roughly 20% of the federal government, and the remaining agencies only had enough money to last them through next Friday. If passed, the short-term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, would mark the fourth such stopgap measure approved since September.

Hard-right Republican lawmakers have voiced frustration with the short-term funding measures, but ongoing disagreements over some proposals in the appropriations bills have complicated talks over the full-year bills. After meeting with Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday, the House speaker, the Republican Mike Johnson, expressed confidence that members could reach an agreement and avoid a shutdown.

“We have been working in good faith around the clock every single day, for months and weeks and over the last several days, quite literally around the clock to get that job done. We’re very optimistic,” Johnson told reporters. “We believe that we can get to agreement on these issues and prevent a government shutdown. And that’s our first responsibility.”

The Senate majority leader, the Democrat Chuck Schumer, echoed Johnson’s assessment while acknowledging that another short-term funding bill would be necessary to prevent a lapse in federal funding.

“The speaker said unequivocally he wants to avoid a government shutdown,” Schumer said. “We made it clear that that means not letting any of the government appropriations bills lapse, which means you need some CRs [continuing resolutions] to get that done. But we’re making good progress, and we’re hopeful we can get this done really quickly.”

A shutdown would have forced many federal employees to go without pay until Congress passed another funding bill, and while that disruption has been avoided for now, the threat will arise again in the coming weeks. If lawmakers can reach an agreement on all full-year appropriations bills before 22 March as promised, the government will be funded through the fiscal year, which ends on 30 September.