Government Shutdown Looms As Deadline Nears

Leaders from both political parties convened with President Biden at the White House on Tuesday to deliberate on the approaching deadline for government financing. As the deadline drew near, the officials voiced confidence in averting a government shutdown and securing approval for the required funding.

The meeting, which took place in the Oval Office, included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. The top Democrats described the meeting as “productive” and “intense,” highlighting their commitment to finding a path forward on government funding and a supplemental foreign aid package.

Schumer emphasized the progress, stating, “We’re making good progress, and we’re hopeful we can get this done quickly.” He also noted that Speaker Johnson made it clear that he unequivocally wants to avoid a government shutdown. This likely means passing a short-term measure to keep the government funded until a long-term solution is reached.

Speaking after Schumer, Speaker Johnson expressed his optimism about approving more funding before the deadline. He emphasized the importance of preventing a government shutdown, stating, “We believe we can agree on these issues and prevent a government shutdown, and that’s our first responsibility.”

Sources familiar with the ongoing talks confirmed Speaker Johnson has offered a new offer. This offer suggests the passage of a short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution, to fund the government through March 8 and 22. However, these proposals are still under discussion, and nothing has been finalized.

A spokesperson for Speaker Johnson clarified that any continuing resolution would be part of a more extensive agreement to finish several appropriations bills. This bill would ensure adequate time for drafting text and for members to review before voting.

Despite reaching an overarching agreement on topline numbers for government funding earlier this year, disagreements have persisted in the funding effort. However, the leaders remain hopeful that a resolution can be reached before the deadline, ensuring the government’s smooth operation and avoiding disruptions. 

House conservatives are pushing for policy riders to be included in the funding legislation, creating complications for Democrats and hindering progress. Lawmakers have been working to approve all 12 spending bills to fund the government for fiscal year 2024. However, with disagreements persisting and the deadline approaching, it seems likely that another funding patch will be necessary.

Senate negotiators had previously reached a border security agreement that faced opposition from House Republicans who believed it wasn’t sufficient. When the GOP announced and rejected the deal, an alternative foreign aid package without border security was proposed.