The Senate was expected to pass legislation Thursday to fund the government through early March, putting pressure on the House to quickly follow suit to avoid a partial government shutdown starting Saturday.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and majority leader, cleared the way Wednesday for a midday vote on the measure. The goal is to give Congress time to pass spending bills totaling $1.66 trillion to fund the government through the fall, keeping most federal spending stable while strengthening the army.
The legislation “will give Congress time to continue working on the appropriations process to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year,” Schumer said. “We hope the House will consider this bill before Friday’s deadline with bipartisan support.”
Speaker Mike Johnson, who negotiated the spending package with Mr. Schumer, was criticized by the House’s far-right faction for not pushing for deeper cuts. He will need a significant number of Democrats to support the measure given expected Republican opposition.
Even if we consider that the bill represents a turnaround on the part of the president, who pledged last year not to incur any more short-term spending. But time ran out to pass the 12 individual bills that fund the government, forcing the hand of Mr. Johnson, who does not want House Republicans to be blamed for a disruption of government services as the election approaches. of November.
The timeline for a House vote remains uncertain, although leaders have left open the possibility of a quick vote after the Senate takes action. A snowstorm is forecast for the Washington area on Friday, and lawmakers will be eager to get out of town and avoid the possibility of flight cancellations that could strand them in the capital for the weekend.
To overcome procedural objections to rapid progress in the Senate, Mr. Schumer agreed to allow Republicans to propose three changes that would effectively derail the measure. But all are expected to fail, paving the way for approval and a House vote.
As he did in the fall with the previous stopgap spending bill, Mr. Johnson will then have to resort to special procedures to speed the measure’s passage through the House, limiting debate and requiring a majority of two-thirds likely to be made up of a greater number of Democrats. than the Republicans.
Under the legislation, funding for agriculture, veterans programs, transportation, housing and other federal operations would be continued until March 1, while funding for the rest of the government, including the Pentagon, would expire on March 8.
With the extra time, members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees hope to pass the dozen bills funding the government at the spending level agreed to by Mr. Johnson and Mr. Schumer. But it won’t be easy.
In addition to their objections to the spending itself, far-right conservatives in the House are demanding that the measures include restrictions on abortion and other limits on government authority that Democrats say they will not accept. not, provoking a confrontation over these political provisions.
“We still have a tremendous amount of work to do in a short period of time to finalize serious appropriations bills, free from partisan poison pills, that protect key investments for our country’s future,” said Senator Patty Murray. , Democrat of Washington and chair of the board. of the Senate Appropriations Committee.