Congress Faces Time Crunch on Government Funding

January 11, 2024

Congress may need to pass a short-term government funding bill to prevent a partial shutdown next week, despite an announced spending deal by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last Sunday.

Johnson and Schumer have agreed to spend $1.66 trillion in the 2024 fiscal year, which ends in September. But that agreement leaves just days before funding for roughly 20 percent of the federal government expires on Jan. 19. Money for the rest of the government runs out two weeks after that, on Feb. 2.

Johnson is encountering opposition from some conservatives in his caucus who have demanded budget cuts and called his deal with Schumer a “total failure.” While House Republicans are adamantly against a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government, Senate leaders of both parties are cautioning that a CR is likely to be needed.

“We are all working nonstop right now to get this done, but we are obviously crunched for time,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters this week.

“They have a top-line agreement, Schumer and the speaker,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “In the meantime, we need to prevent a government shutdown. The obvious question is how long does the CR need to be. That will be up to the majority leader and the speaker, to determine the length of the CR.”

Johnson told reporters this week that the House’s work on passing the necessary appropriations bills before Jan. 19 is “pedal to the metal.” But realistically, pacing is slower in the Senate, where four spending bills will need to be drafted and members will need time to review the legislative texts. In the Senate, each bill needs support from at least 60 members to avoid a filibuster.

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