Congress barrels toward government shutdown deadlines with little progress so far

The clock is ticking yet again for congressional lawmakers to find a way to avoid a government shutdown.

House and Senate leaders came together in mid-January to pass a short-term extension of last year’s government spending levels, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to give themselves more time to hash out a deal for the remainder of fiscal year 2024.

It was the third CR passed since the previous fiscal year ended Sept. 30 and preserved funding for some agencies through March 1 and others through March 8.

The House left for an extended weekend Wednesday and is not due back until Tuesday. 

The Senate was in session last week but is expected to be on recess next week. That recess may be interrupted for work on a foreign aid package outside of the regular discretionary government spending debate.

As things stand now, the House and Senate are only expected to be in session at the same time for two more days this month.

One House GOP leadership aide said of the government spending fight, ‘We are doing nothing on that right now. Just fighting the battles in front of us.

‘At this point we had to know this was going to be the outcome. The floor is nearly impossible to navigate.’

A second senior House GOP aide said, ‘The fact that we haven’t passed any appropriations bills in months as we’re barreling toward another shutdown is beyond alarming

‘We know the deadline is in less than a month, but we’re governing like the deadline is years away. It’s the same self-inflicted wound over and over again. Standard operating procedure for this Congress.’

If they fail to either extend current funding levels or reach an agreement on new levels, the government could fall into a partial shutdown, with federal programs on pause and thousands of federal workers potentially furloughed. 

On the House side, Republicans have spent much of the last month on a push to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over the border crisis, which culminated in a failed vote this week, though Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., vowed to hold another attempt.

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