WASHINGTON — Congress is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill that would prevent a partial government shutdown this weekend and keep federal funds flowing through March 1 and March 8.
The Democratic-led Senate is set to go first and vote in the early afternoon after considering a few amendments.
The bill would then go to the Republican-controlled House, which is hoping to pass it later Thursday and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk before funding expires Friday at midnight.
It is the third stopgap bill since last September as the divided Congress struggles to agree on full-year government funding bills.
A recent deal between Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on how much to spend in the new year has renewed hope of completing the process by the new early March deadlines. But that is far from guaranteed as right-wing House Republicans rebel against it.
Schumer inveighed against “a loud contingent of hard-right rabble-rousers who thinks a shutdown is somehow a good thing.”
“In the twisted logic of the hard right, the theory is if enough people feel the pain of a shutdown, the hard-right can bully the rest of Congress into enacting their deeply unpopular agenda,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. “Bullying, intimidation, chaos. This is MAGA extremism in a nutshell.”
Around the same time, the House announced that it would cancel votes on Friday in anticipation of a winter storm and complete votes on the stopgap bill on Thursday. It’s set to be brought up on “suspension,” a process that allows leadership to fast-track legislation but requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
The bill would extend the two-part government funding deadlines from Jan. 19 to March 1, and from Feb. 2 to March 8. The funding bill is unrelated to negotiations surrounding an immigration and national security supplemental bill that would provide aid to Ukraine and Israel. It’s designed to give appropriators more time to craft the 12 appropriations bills that fully fund the government using the newly agreed-to spending levels.
“We need just a little bit more time on the calendar to allow that process to play out,” Johnson told reporters, saying he’s “very hopeful” that Congress can pass all 12 measures.
“We’ll see how this develops. Certainly, we’re not going to have an omnibus,” he said, referring to the massive, last-minute spending bills Congress has frequently relied on. “And that was a very important innovation for us to forge forward because it’s no way to run a railroad.”