Congressional leaders reach short-term spending deal to keep government open until March

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People walk past the U.S. Capitol building with less than two weeks remaining for the U.S. Congress to negotiate a deal to avert a partial government shutdown in Washington, U.S., January 11, 2024. 

Leah Millis | Reuters

WASHINGTON — House and Senate leaders have reached an agreement on a short-term spending deal that would avert a government shutdown in the next few weeks, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The deal would keep the government funded until March, buying legislators more time to craft longer-term, agency-specific spending bills, following the agreement last weekend to set the overall spending level for fiscal year 2024 at $1.59 trillion.

The new agreement moves upcoming government funding deadlines for different departments from Jan. 19 and Feb. 2 to March 1 and March 8.

The short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution or “CR,” will need to pass both the House and Senate before Friday at 11:59 p.m. to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Speaker Mike Johnson is set to hold a call with fellow House Republicans at 8 p.m. Sunday to discuss spending negotiations. Several hard-right Republicans have objected to the top-line spending deal he previously cut with Senate Democrats and have urged Johnson to go back on it, though he said Friday that the agreement remains intact.

As Johnson faced pushback from the right, several moderate Democrats told NBC News that they would be willing to vote to save the Louisiana Republican’s speakership if there were a move to oust him. Democrats stood aside and voted to remove former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in a similar situation last year when a handful of House conservatives rebelled against their party’s then-leader. Several of those same rebels are now threatening Johnson’s job.

Meanwhile, congressional Democrats praised the top-line spending agreement after it was announced last weekend, even as they acknowledged that a short-term bill would be needed to buy more time to negotiate.

“The bipartisan topline appropriations agreement clears the way for Congress to act over the next few weeks in order to maintain important funding priorities for the American people and avoid a government shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both New York Democrats, said in a statement at the time.