Top lawmakers mull funding patch ahead of Friday shutdown deadline

Congressional leaders are talking about kicking the government shutdown deadlines further into March, as part of a broader deal to finalize funding bills as a partial funding lapse looms at week’s end.

A spokesperson for Speaker Mike Johnson said Tuesday night that leaders would only resort to a stopgap funding patch as part of a larger agreement to finish some of the 12 spending bills. Already negotiators are out of time to finalize bill text for the four measures set to expire just after midnight on Saturday morning, if Johnson is going to remain committed to giving House lawmakers three full days to read bill text before a passage vote.

“Any” continuing resolution “would be part of a larger agreement to finish a number of appropriations bills, ensuring adequate time for drafting text and for members to review prior to casting votes,” a spokesperson for the speaker said in a statement.

Top lawmakers have for days been kicking around the idea of punting to March 22 on any funding bills that aren’t close to being finalized over the next week, while potentially resorting to a shorter punt for the measures they can finish in short order.

“We’re working as hard as we can to get them done. Democrats are willing to do a CR to give us the time,” Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) told reporters Tuesday night.

Negotiators are nearing a final compromise on the four bills set to expire at the end of this week, when funding would lapse for the departments of Transportation, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and Energy, as well as Housing and Urban Development. Several of the other eight funding bills are close to being finalized too, while measures like the Homeland Security funding bill are still plagued by typical partisan disagreements, according to appropriators.