Congress’ final funding deal is going down to the wire

By Jennifer Scholtes, Caitlin Emma | 03/20/2024 06:34 AM EDT

Lawmakers may not be able to avoid a brief government closure as they look to approve the massive bipartisan spending package.

House Speaker Mike Johnson arrives for a vote at the U.S. Capitol.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) at the Capitol last week. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Top lawmakers and the White House have finally reached a deal to close out the government funding fight that began more than a year ago, when Kevin McCarthy first took the speakership.

But it’s already too late to guarantee the monumental bipartisan agreement isn’t punctuated by a brief government shutdown. In the parlance of the George W. Bush administration’s terrorism risk alerts, the threat of a closure is firmly in the yellow zone.

Whether funding will lapse early Saturday morning for the Pentagon and key nondefense agencies like the State Department is largely up to House Speaker Mike Johnson, who will have to decide this week between three choices: Bend House rules to speed up passage, embrace a short funding patch to buy more time — or let federal cash stop flowing to most federal programs for a few days.


The speaker has not yet said whether he’ll stick to a pledge giving his members 72 hours to review the legislation, a move that would ratchet up the chances of Congress blowing past its deadline since that text is still being drafted.