Congress kicks off week without deal to avert partial government shutdown

Written by on March 18, 2024

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(WASHINGTON) — Congress is beginning the week without a deal to avert a partial government shutdown by Friday’s deadline — as funding for the Department of Homeland Security trips up negotiations.

The Friday deadline is for the remaining six of 12 spending bills after Congress passed the first six earlier this month — averting a partial government shutdown in the process.

This funding package will need to clear both chambers by Friday at midnight.

It was widely expected that negotiators would release legislative text for a government funding package by Sunday, but they blew through that deadline, raising questions about the prospects of a shutdown. Lawmakers are in crunch time to prevent a shutdown: the House has a rule requiring 72 hours for members to review legislation before voting; the Senate also can take a few days to process House-passed bills.

If there’s no bill text Monday, that potentially pushes votes off until the end of the week or weekend — increasing the chances of shutdown — unless House Speaker Mike Johnson speeds up the process.

The hang-up, according to GOP leadership sources, is funding for DHS, which would keep the agency funded at current levels. That would essentially be a cut – a strong signal given the surge of migrants at the southern border and that immigration is a key wedge issue in an election year.

A major sticking point is funding for border enforcement — something Republicans want more money allocated to after a record number of migrant encounters at the southern border late last year.

Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for more money for pay equity in the Transportation Security Administration.

Talks on funding for DHS were already in bad shape last week and congressional leaders ended up proposing a full-year continuing resolution to fund the department. The White House threatened to reject the CR over the weekend, according to a GOP leadership source.

The White House told ABC News that it didn’t have a comment on the matter.

“House Republicans will continue to work in good faith to reach consensus on the appropriations bills that reprioritizes DHS funding towards enforcing border and immigration laws,” Raj Shah, a spokesman for Johnson, said in a statement.

Sources says the other five funding bills are complete and agreed upon. The other bills include funding agencies such as the departments of Defense, State and Education.

This debacle is the latest challenge for Johnson, who has worked to come up plans to avert several shutdowns with his party’s razor-thin majority. He has had to rely on House Democrats’ votes to prevent shutdowns — something that landed his predecessor Kevin McCarthy in hot water with the party and contributed to his ouster last year.

Many House Republicans have not aligned with Johnson on his plans to fund the government, with many pushing back on his plans to use continuing resolutions.

At the Republican retreat in West Virginia last week, Johnson said he was confident they’d be able to avert a shutdown.

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