Congressional Leaders Negotiate Spending Bill to Avert Shutdown

By Jerry McConway, updated on February 29, 2024

Friday is the day that if a spending bill is not delivered to Biden's desk and signed, numerous agencies and programs will come to a screeching halt.

Hopefully, that can be avoided after congressional leadership manages to negotiate a deal that will be floored in the House and Senate.

Talking Points…
- Shutdown looming
- New deal negotiated
- Analysis

Shutdown Hangs Over Head of Congress and Biden

As usual, our elected officials have waited until the witching hour to get a funding bill negotiated on their respective floors for a vote. Because it is so late in the game, we will have to have another short-term deal that will keep the government operational but will not cover long-term spending.

A shutdown at this point serves nobody, as both sides will start pointing fingers at each other, but with most mainstream media outlets leaning left, we know where the public perception will be, and that will be with the White House pushing the narrative that MAGA Republicans are to blame, and the media will eat it up.

While you never want to be in the Oval Office when a shutdown occurs, the person with the most to lose here is Speaker Johnson (R-LA). He is dealing with a fractured caucus, which goes much deeper than just being part of the equation here. This very much goes to show if Johnson can handle the job as Speaker.

Short-term Deal Negotiated Among Congressional Leaders

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is doing his usual tough guy schtick, basically making it sound like he made demands and Johnson buckled, but nobody really buckles in a short-term deal. This was more about agreeing on funding for the short term so the long-term budget could be put into place.

If the deal passes in both the Senate and House, it will cover funding for Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, Energy, Interior, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development through March 8. The remainder of the bills would get pushed back until March 22. According to congressional leaders, this would allow the proper amount of time for the full budgetary legislation to be written, digested by members of Congress, and then debated. The lawmakers explained:

"To give the House and Senate Appropriations Committees adequate time to execute on this deal in principle, including drafting, preparing report language, scoring and other technical matters, and to allow members 72 hours to review, a short-term continuing resolution to fund agencies through March 8 and the 22 will be necessary, and voted on by the House and Senate this week."

Joe Biden is scheduled to give his State of the Union Address on March 7 before a joint session of Congress, so you better believe this funding will be front and center.

Analysis

Speaker Johnson has been very transparent with the media throughout this process. After what was called a contentious meeting with congressional leaders and Joe Biden on Tuesday, Johnson still chose to stay upbeat about the process, stating:

"We have been working in good faith around the clock every single day, for months and weeks, and over the last several days, quite literally around the clock, to get that job done. We're very optimistic."

If they do not get the legislation passed, two people lose. Biden cannot afford to have Ukraine fall to the Russians, even though he would put it on Republicans. The bottom line here is that Biden has tried a "my way or the highway" attitude, and to his credit, Johnson has held firm, but he also stands to lose here. Johnson, in my opinion, has been ineffective in holding the gavel thus far, and with the House at stake, he has to show that Republicans can legislate something more than disciplinary measures. If he cannot do that, the American people may not trust Republicans to remain in control of the House, and it will make taking back the Senate even more difficult than it already will be.

On the flip side of that, if Johnson can manage to get individual spending bills written, with nothing hidden in the text, this will be a monumental win for Republicans, even if they are presented as a package. The important thing here is that there is no hidden spending, and each bill addresses a single issue. If he does that, he has literally changed the way Congress has operated for decades.

About Jerry McConway

Jerry McConway is an independent political author and investigator who lives in Dallas, Texas. He has spent years building a strong following of readers who know that he will write what he believes is true, even if it means criticizing politicians his followers support. His readers have come to expect his integrity.

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