House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) shown on Capitol Hill on...

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) shown on Capitol Hill on March 6.  Credit: Getty Images/Kent Nishimura

WASHINGTON — A partial shutdown of the federal government appears possible as Congress works to pass a $1 trillion legislative package unveiled Tuesday to fund the government before key agencies such as the Department of Defense run out of money at midnight Friday.

Congressional leaders and the White House reached an agreement Monday night on a bill containing the final six appropriations measures by resolving a sticking point between House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and President Joe Biden on funding for the Homeland Security Department.

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WASHINGTON — A partial shutdown of the federal government appears possible as Congress works to pass a $1 trillion legislative package unveiled Tuesday to fund the government before key agencies such as the Department of Defense run out of money at midnight Friday.

Congressional leaders and the White House reached an agreement Monday night on a bill containing the final six appropriations measures by resolving a sticking point between House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and President Joe Biden on funding for the Homeland Security Department.

But before either chamber can hold a vote on the appropriations, staff must write the legislative text of the Homeland Security agreement, a task that was expected to take until late Tuesday or Wednesday to complete, leaving just a few days for votes before the Friday deadline.

And rules in the House and the Senate could delay votes until the weekend, unless lawmakers allow those rules to be waived.

“House and Senate committees have begun drafting bill text to be prepared for release and consideration by the full House and Senate as soon as possible,” Johnson said in a statement Tuesday morning.

“Appropriators are working swiftly to turn this agreement into legislative text as soon as possible so members can review, finalize and ultimately take a vote in the coming days,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor.

“Once the House sends us a funding package, I will put it on the floor of the Senate without delay,” Schumer said.

The White House said when Congress passes the bill “the president will sign it immediately.”

On March 8, Congress narrowly avoided a partial shutdown by approving $460 billion for the first six of the 12 appropriations bills to keep about half the federal agencies open through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.

Now, Congress must pass the bill for the other six appropriations measures for the Pentagon, the Internal Revenue Service, homeland security, foreign diplomacy, health programs and Congress by Friday or a partial shutdown will occur.

Hurdles

Two potential procedural obstacles could delay votes in the House and Senate past the Friday deadline, said Molly Reynolds, a governance expert at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

In the House, a rule gives lawmakers 72 hours to read the text of legislation before a vote. If Johnson honors it, the House would not vote until Friday at the earliest. Word had spread in the House that members will vote on the bill Saturday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Johnson was weighing his options on process, including whether to honor the 72-hour rule, said a House aide familiar with the appropriations deal.

In the Senate, Schumer must get every senator’s consent to bring the bill up for a vote.

“If both parties proceed in the same manner we did two weeks ago, quickly, constructively and without unnecessary partisan dithering, I'm hopeful we can finish the appropriations process without causing a lapse in government services,” Schumer said.

What's at stake

The appropriations contain nearly 70% of the federal government’s discretionary spending for some of the most significant federal departments as well as the legislative branch.

Most of that funding goes to the Defense Department — $886 billion, a 3% increase from a year ago, according to last year’s agreement between the White House and then House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). The rest of discretionary spending will be cut by up to 9%.

Appropriations bill

The appropriations bill under consideration in Congress contains funding for the following departments, the legislative branch and government purposes:

  • Defense Department
  • Homeland Security Department
  • Labor Department
  • State Department
  • Health and Human Services Department
  • Treasury Department (Includes IRS)
  • Legislative Branch
  • General government
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