President Signs Stopgap Bill To Prevent Government Shutdown

The short-term funding legislation sets deadlines to keep the lights on at key government agencies till March 8 and 22.

An American flag on a pole outside the Capitol building at dusk.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

President Joe Biden signed short-term funding legislation today (March 1) that keeps the government from starting a partial shut down at midnight tonight. The House and Senate yesterday passed the stopgap measure, which extends the deadlines of two full-year funding bills.

"This bipartisan agreement prevents a damaging shutdown and allows more time for Congress to work toward full-year funding bills," Biden said in a statement. "That’s good news for the American people. But I want to be clear: this is a short-term fix—not a long-term solution." Congress, he said, must do its job and pass the full-year funding bills.

“I am happy to inform the American people that there will be no government shutdown on Friday,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor last night, after the Senate voted 77-13 to pass the legislation. Earlier in the day, the House voted 320-99 in favor of it.

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The new deadlines aim to buy time for lawmakers to come to an agreement on 12 FY2024 appropriations bills that would fund a host of federal agencies. Under the latest plan, six of the appropriations bill would expire on March 8, after which the government would begin a partial shutdown unless lawmakers pass the bills or once again extend the deadline. The remaining six bills would expire on March 22, triggering a full government shutdown under the same conditions.

What's at stake

A lot is at stake if Congress fails to pass the appropriations bills, including the prospect that many government operations would be forced to close or run on greatly reduced staff with limits on some public services. A government shutdown could affect you in a number ways from disrupting travel plans to stopping certain outreach programs for veterans among others.

The short-term funding measure, referred to as a continuing resolution (CR), is the fourth this Congress. Since last September, lawmakers have kept kicking the can down the road, delaying the deadlines for the full-year appropriations bills to expire. Without the extensions or passage of the appropriations bills by both the House and Senate, a shutdown would start.

The 12 appropriations bills

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • Energy and Water Development
  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
  • Defense
  • Financial Services and General Government
  • Homeland Security
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
  •  Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies 
  • Legislative Branch
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Earlier this week, House and Senate leaders reached an agreement on the new deadlines after meeting with the president.

The six bills with the March 8 deadlines provide funding for Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration; Commerce, Justice and Science; Energy and Water Development; Interior; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; as well as Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. 

“These bills will adhere to the Fiscal Responsibility Act discretionary spending limits and January’s top-line spending agreement,” the leaders said in a joint statement following the White House meeting.

The remaining six appropriations bills with the March 22 deadline provide funding for Defense; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Labor, Health and Human Services; Legislative Branch; and State and Foreign Operations. These bills are expected to be harder to pass.

Consequences of a shutdown

Here’s what to know about the agencies and services that are at stake in the event of a shutdown:

Political pundits are more optimistic about passage of the first six appropriations bills next week than they are about the remaining bills two weeks later, due largely to intraparty fighting, particularly among House Republicans.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) continues to face opposition from hard-right Republicans whose demands include deeper spending cuts and a border deal. He, once again, had to rely on Democrats to get a two-thirds supermajority for the short-term funding bill to pass. Some of the same Republicans who helped oust Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, last year after McCarthy relied on Democrats to temporarily avert a shutdown, haven't changed their demands and some are even pushing for a shutdown.


Senior News Editor

Esther D’Amico is Kiplinger’s senior news editor. A long-time antitrust and congressional affairs journalist, Esther has covered a range of beats including infrastructure, climate change and the industrial chemicals sector. She previously served as chief correspondent for a financial news service where she chronicled debates in and out of Congress, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Commerce Department with a particular focus on large mergers and acquisitions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and in English.