Congress Acts to Avert Partial Government Shutdown with Stopgap Funding Measures

Riley Sundew

Updated Thursday, February 29, 2024 at 6:06 AM CDT

Congress Acts to Avert Partial Government Shutdown with Stopgap Funding Measures

In a crucial move to prevent a partial government shutdown, congressional leaders have successfully negotiated a short-term funding extension, ensuring that federal agencies remain operational. The agreement, reached just days before the deadline, extends funding for several key government departments until March 8, 2023, with the remainder funded until March 22, 2023.

As the clock ticks towards the funding expiration date, the House is poised to vote on Thursday on a continuing resolution that will keep the government fully funded. With current funding set to lapse on Friday, this resolution is a necessary step to prevent a shutdown. Lawmakers are expected to cast their votes on six of the 12 appropriations bills, covering critical departments such as Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Interior, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.

An additional two-week window has been granted to pass the remaining funding bills for other essential departments, including Defense, Homeland Security, State, Health and Human Services, and Labor. These appropriations bills will adhere to the spending limits set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the topline spending agreement established in January.

This bipartisan effort was announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, along with the leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations committees. The deal includes a 72-hour review period for members to scrutinize the bill details before moving forward.

Amidst the potential for a shutdown, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has expressed the administration's support for the agreement, emphasizing the importance of avoiding a lapse in government services. The bipartisan negotiators have worked diligently to ensure that half of the must-pass spending bills are included in the stopgap measures.

While the House has returned to session after a two-week recess, the Senate must also pass the short-term bill before Friday's deadline to avoid a shutdown. The unanimous Senate vote required for a speedy decision underlines the urgency of the situation. Senate Majority Leader Schumer has voiced criticism of the "extreme hard right," whose demands have complicated the funding process.

Despite the challenges, congressional leaders remain committed to preventing a shutdown, which they agree would be counterproductive. As the nation watches, Congress continues to work under the 2022 budget, having postponed new funding bills three times during the current session.

The bipartisan bill introduced by the "Big Four" leaders extends the government funding deadline to March 9 and March 23, ensuring that federal agencies at risk of closing will remain open. With the bill maintaining last year’s funding levels, it reflects the fourth extension since October 1. The two packages of funding bills will adhere to topline spending caps from a prior debt limit deal, with Republicans having made small adjustments in January to avoid a shutdown.

As the exact timing for the passage of full-year funding bills by the proposed deadlines remains uncertain, House Republicans express discontent over the lack of policy victories in annual spending discussions. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy may need to rely on Democratic votes to pass both short- and long-term spending bills. Notably, the stopgap bill does not address funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, leaving GOP leaders to weigh their response to a bipartisan Senate bill that includes aid for these nations.

The article closes with news of Mitch McConnell hinting at stepping down as Senate Republican Leader, stirring speculation about potential successors known as "The Three Johns". As the nation awaits the outcome, Congress emphasizes the bipartisan effort needed to finalize government funding, with approval by both chambers and a signature from President Biden required before midnight Friday to avert a shutdown.

Conservative Bias:

Once again, the liberal elites in Congress are dragging their feet, pushing us to the brink of a government shutdown because they can't prioritize the needs of the American people over their socialist wish lists. These so-called "negotiations" are just a smokescreen for the Democrats' failure to manage the country's finances, forcing through stopgap measures that only serve to kick the can down the road. They're playing games with our national security by delaying funding for essential departments like Defense and Homeland Security, all while they throw money at their pet projects. It's a clear display of fiscal irresponsibility and a lack of leadership from the left, who prefer to govern by chaos and crisis rather than common sense and conservatism. The hardworking taxpayers deserve better than this endless cycle of last-minute scrambling and partisan posturing.

Liberal Bias:

Once again, the obstructionist Republicans in Congress are holding the nation hostage with their brinkmanship, risking a government shutdown to push their extreme, right-wing agenda. Instead of working in good faith to pass a budget that reflects the needs of all Americans, they're stonewalling critical funding for health, education, and welfare to score political points. Their blatant disregard for the well-being of millions of Americans is nothing short of appalling. They would rather see the government grind to a halt than compromise on their draconian spending cuts. This is the same party that has no problem inflating the military budget but balks at the slightest investment in the American people. It's a shameful display of partisanship that underscores their commitment to the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the middle and working classes.

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