Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
February 28, 2024

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said on the Senate floor this morning that negotiators are “very close” to a government funding agreement.  This follows a Tuesday meeting with President Joe Biden and the top four congressional leaders as they scramble to send military aid to our foreign allies and avert a partial government shutdown at the end of the week.  If Congress cannot figure out a path forward on funding this week, the departments of Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, as well as other programs, will all shut down at 12:01 A.M. ET Saturday. Funding for the rest of the government, including the Defense, State, Homeland Security and Justice departments, expires a week later, at 12:01 A.M. ET on March 9th.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) has put forward a new offer that would potentially involve passage of a short-term continuing resolution that would fund the government through March 8th and March 22nd.  The proposal, which could be part of a broader agreement, is still under discussion and nothing has been finalized.  The options for keeping the government open now include passing the previously mentioned short-term CR to allow for further negotiations, a long-term CR to finish out the fiscal year, or a combination of some portion of the 12 spending bills for some agencies, and a CR for the remainder.  The current political dynamics, however, are making it increasingly difficult for Congress to pass any funding legislation.  Republicans are willing to consider a long-term CR because if there is no new budget by April 30th, it will trigger a government-wide 1% spending cut negotiated in last year’s debt-ceiling agreement.  That makes Democrats equally unwilling to consider a long-term CR.  But Speaker Johnson working with the Democrats to pass a short-term CR that would allow additional time for negotiations is a nonstarter to House Republicans, who have already proven themselves more than willing to remove a speaker over a spending deal they don’t like.

For today, the Senate is continuing to process nominations, and is expected to confirm the nomination of Julie Simone Sneed to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Florida, the nomination of Melissa Damian to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida and a Motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Marjorie Rollinson to be Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service and an Assistant General Counsel in the Department of the Treasury.

When the House reconvenes for votes at 6:30 P.M., it is expected to consider ten bills mainly from the Small Business Committee under suspension of the Rules.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.