Congress Skips Town as Shutdown Deadline Looms

Congress Skips Town as Shutdown Deadline Looms

Congress may be out next week for its Presidents’ Day recess, but the clock is still ticking toward a March 1 deadline to keep portions of the government from shutting down and a second deadline covering the rest of federal agencies a week later.

With time running out and appropriators still working to complete fiscal year 2024 spending details, one Republican leader has already warned that the GOP-led House will not pass another temporary funding extension to avert a shutdown. “You are not going to get another continuing resolution out of our conference,” Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the House majority whip, told Bloomberg Television.

While that stance raises the chances of a shutdown, Emmer and top appropriators have also expressed confidence that talks to finalize spending plans were making progress.

Still, Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the top Democratic appropriator, reportedly warned that Republican demands for conservative policy riders remain an obstacle.

Republicans have reportedly been at odds over such demands, and Punchbowl News reported Friday that, at an occasionally heated GOP meeting in Speaker Mike Johnson’s office earlier this week, “appropriators effectively told the hardline conservatives that they have no chance of exacting the kinds of ‘poison pill’ riders that the House approved in GOP-only spending bills.”

Republican appropriators reportedly warned that government shutdown would hurt their members.

“Republican leaders and appropriators have urged conservatives to focus on one or two achievable goals — something modest on border security, for example — and to drop their focus on other poison-pill amendments,” Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman, Mica Soellner and John Bresnahan reported.

Conservatives at the meeting reportedly responded with anger and suggested that Republicans should allow a government shutdown or push a full-year stopgap package that would require a 1% across-the-board spending cut. “Conservatives’ goal for months has been to string the appropriations process along until that cut kicks in” at the end of April, Punchbowl added.

The bottom line: Emmer effectively ruled out one of the few options to avoid a partial government shutdown after March 1. Johnson could still reverse course and allow another short-term funding bill to buy time for the appropriations process. Or he could push a full-year stopgap or look to pass spending bills with Democratic help, which would invite a conservative push to oust him.