Congressional Leaders Unveil Stopgap Bill to Head Off Shutdown


Congressional leaders unveiled stopgap legislation on Sunday to avert a partial government shutdown, teeing up a race to pass the bipartisan spending deal into law before a deadline at the end of the week.

The bill, which came out of a spending deal negotiated by Speaker Mike Johnson and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, would temporarily extend funding for some federal agencies until March 1 and for others through March 8. It would keep the government funded at its current spending levels, without any policy changes or conditions.

Facing opposition from hard-line House Republicans and a razor-thin G.O.P. majority, Mr. Johnson will most likely need to rely on the same coalition — made up of Democrats and mainstream Republicans — to pass the bill that both he and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy have relied on to keep the government funded.

In a sign that Democrats were preparing to muster the bulk of the votes to pass the bill, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, signaled his backing of the bill on Sunday night. He wrote to his caucus that he was “in strong support of the effort to keep the appropriations process moving forward and avoid a disruptive partial government shutdown.”

Mr. Schumer said that the Senate would begin the process to pass the bill, known as a continuing resolution, on Tuesday, when lawmakers return to Washington. He noted that it would “take bipartisan cooperation in the Senate and the House to quickly pass the C.R. and send it to the president’s desk before Friday’s funding deadline.”

Far-right Republicans, who have signaled their anger with the deal since Mr. Johnson initially announced it last weekend — and even implored him to abandon it — vented again on Sunday night during a private conference call the speaker hosted to walk through the legislation.

Both privately and publicly, Mr. Johnson has framed the stopgap bill as a necessary measure that would allow lawmakers to continue passing the 12 individual spending bills that fund the government — a key demand by hard-right Republicans.

“Because the completion deadlines are upon us, a short continuing resolution is required to complete what House Republicans are working hard to achieve: an end to governance by omnibus, meaningful policy wins and better stewardship of American tax dollars,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement.

And he has promoted what he said were important improvements to the debt limit deal that Mr. McCarthy negotiated last year with President Biden. Mr. Johnson noted that he had secured concessions such as speeding up $10 billion in cuts to I.R.S. enforcement and clawing back $6 billion in unspent pandemic dollars and other emergency funds.

But those concessions have done little to assuage his restive right flank, and some far-right lawmakers have begun dangling the threat of calling a vote to oust Mr. Johnson. That would hand him the same fate they dealt Mr. McCarthy after he relied on Democratic votes to avoid a shutdown in September.

“The @HouseGOP is planning to pass a short-term spending bill continuing Pelosi levels with Biden policies, to buy time to pass longer-term spending bills at Pelosi levels with Biden policies,” the House Freedom Caucus wrote on social media. “This is what surrender looks like.”

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