Biden signs stopgap bill to avert government shutdown

President Joe Biden on Friday signed a stopgap bill into law to avert a partial government shutdown at the end of the week.

Congress had been confronting a pair of shutdown deadlines on Friday and March 8.

To provide additional time for full-year funding bills to be finalized and passed, the stopgap measure will extend funding on a short-term basis and set up two deadlines on March 8 and March 22.

Earlier this week, congressional leaders announced an agreement on six appropriations bills and said the package of full-year bills will be enacted before March 8, while the remaining appropriations bills to fund the rest of the government will be finalized and passed before March 22.

The House and Senate both passed the bill on Thursday.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has been under intense pressure from his right flank to fight for conservative wins in the government funding battle, and hardliners were quick to push back on the prospect of another short-term funding bill.

“The appropriations process is ugly,” Johnson told reporters on Thursday. “Democracy is ugly. This is the way it works every year – always has – except that we’ve instituted some new innovations. We broke the omnibus fever, right? That’s how Washington has been run for years. We’re trying to turn the aircraft carrier back to real budgeting and spending reform. This was an important thing to break it up into smaller pieces.”

Johnson also defended his handling of the spending talks in a meeting with GOP House members on Thursday ahead of the vote.

According to sources in the room, Johnson said that he was forced into a position to cut the deal because GOP divisions have prevented the House from approving a procedural step, known as a rule, along party lines. That has meant he needs to rely on Democrats to pass bills with a two-thirds majority, forcing them to compromise on the spending package.

Johnson won the gavel after conservatives ousted former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in a historic vote last year, raising the question of whether the Louisiana Republican may at some point face a similar threat against his speakership.

The six bills that lawmakers have reached an agreement on and plan to pass before March 8 include funding for departments and agencies, including Agriculture-FDA; Commerce, Justice and Science; Energy and Water Development; Interior; Military Construction-Veterans Affairs; and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.

The remaining six appropriations bills that lawmakers plan to vote on prior to March 22 including funding for Defense; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Labor-Health and Human Services; the Legislative Branch; and State and Foreign Operations.

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