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Government shutdown avoided with deal days ahead of funding expiration date

Rebecca Barnabi
Congress politics
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A deal was reached by congressional leaders Wednesday to keep the United States government funded through midnight on Saturday, March 2, when some agencies’ funding would have lapsed.

A second deadline looms on Friday, March 8, for 80 percent of federal government spending for departments such as Defense, Homeland Security and State. The larger partial shutdown would begin at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 9.

Congress voted on another stopgap bill, which will be followed by votes in March on spending bills for the full fiscal year.

“We are in agreement that Congress must work in a bipartisan manner to fund our government,” a statement signed by House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and leaders of the appropriations committees in the House and Senate said.

Months of negotiations and disagreements were required for the completion of 12 bills to divide spending among American agencies. The bills must pass the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and receive a signature from President Joe Biden in order to become official.

Leaders agreed today on the basics of six bills to fund the departments of Agriculture, Justice, Interior, Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies. Spending levels for fiscal year 2024 were agreed upon that mimic a bipartisan agreement from 2023 and includes increasing the federal government’s debt ceiling.

Agreement on six bills to provide funding for other agencies will be moved to Friday, March 22.

The U.S. House and Senate will vote separately this week on a short-term stopgap bill and allow “adequate time” for execution, drafting and other technical concerns. Lawmakers will then have 72 hours to review.

Democrats and Republicans have been at odds for months with Republicans wanting to cut back on spending. House Speaker Johnson faced a situation in January when more Republicans voted against than for a stopgap bill, but then U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican from Michigan, changed his vote to no. Nearly all Democrats voted in favor of the bill and it passed 314 to 108.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers would be temporarily out of work and without pay if the federal government shutdown so Biden met with Schumer, Johnson, McConnell and Jeffries at the White House on Tuesday.

“We all agree, a shutdown is a loser for the American people,” Schumer said of the meeting. “In a shutdown, costs go up, safety would go down, and the American people would pay the price.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.