Congressional leaders strike deal on government funding as shutdown looms

Washington — Congressional leaders reached a deal Wednesday on a short-term funding extension to head off a partial government shutdown on Saturday. 

The deal extends funding for some government agencies until March 8 and the rest until March 22. 

It sets up potential votes next week for six of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Interior, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development. Lawmakers would then have two more weeks to pass the remaining six spending bills that include funding for the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, Health and Human Services, and Labor. 

“These bills will adhere to the Fiscal Responsibility Act discretionary spending limits and January’s topline spending agreement,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers said in a statement. 

The deal was announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, as well as the leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations committees. 

“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,” they said. 

The new deadlines could still be a difficult task for the House, which has struggled to approve government funding amid Republican divisions. Congress has for months punted the spending fight down the road as House conservatives have pushed for steep cuts and policy changes, and those disagreements haven’t been resolved. 

Congressional leaders met Tuesday with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House about keeping the government fully open beyond Friday, when funding for some agencies is set to expire. The remaining agencies are funded until March 8. Lawmakers left the meeting optimistic about averting a shutdown before the deadline at the end of this week. 

A statement from White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the agreement announced Wednesday “would help prevent a needless shutdown while providing more time to work on bipartisan appropriations bills and for the House to pass the bipartisan national security supplemental as quickly as possible.” 

Alan He contributed reporting. 

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