With weekend shutdown averted, lawmakers look to meet new spending deadlines

Instead of a shutdown this weekend, we may see text of the first six-bill spending package. For lawmakers, its part of the effort to try and meet the new March 8 and March 22 spending deadlines.

Speaker Mike Johnson and top Appropriations Democrat Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) both told reporters Thursday that they expect text for the first tranche of spending bills to be posted this weekend, although it wouldn’t be surprising if it slipped to Monday.

Multiple appropriators said Thursday they still don’t know what policy riders may hitch a ride on the first bundle of bills — decisions hashed out at the leadership level. But DeLauro said there will not be controversial policy riders in the bills aimed for release this weekend. Their inclusion could easily doom the package.

Conservatives like Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said they aren’t aware of any significant Republican policy victories across the first set of bills. (Johnson admitted during a closed-door conference meeting Thursday morning that House Republicans didn’t get many of the wins they wanted.) And they’re lamenting more of the status quo when it comes to negotiating the annual bills.

“Whoever’s in charge of the Senate and whoever’s in charge of the House, they put their staff in a room and they come up with something and tell you to take it or leave it,” Massie said earlier this week. “This is exactly what we said we would not do at the beginning of this Congress. This is the exact way it’s been done for the 12 years that I’ve been here and it’s wrong.”

“I remain optimistic, we’re going to get them done before the 22nd, six months into the fiscal year,” DeLauro said. On blocking GOP policy riders, DeLauro said, “We’ve done very, very well,” noting that the battle is far from over.

Refresher on what’s in this first package: Agriculture-FDA, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA, Transportation-HUD, Interior-Environment and Commerce-Justice-Science measures.

Like the stopgap bill that passed Thursday, Johnson will need significant support from Democrats to move the six-bill package. His razor-thin GOP majority, paired with divisions within his conference — especially on spending — means he’ll move the bill under a process that requires a two-thirds vote threshold.

When asked how close appropriators are to the second six-bill package of the more challenging spending bills, she joked: “Jesus Christ, give me a break!”

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