Biden to Meet with Congressional Leaders as Shutdown Threat Reemerges

by Gabriel Smith, Legislative Affairs Analyst

Congressional leaders will meet with President Biden Tuesday at the White House to discuss government funding and foreign aid to U.S. allies. The timing of the meeting follows breakdowns in Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations negotiations over the weekend. Lawmakers hoped to release the text of the spending legislation before members of Congress returned to Washington following a recess for President’s Day. The possibility of a partial government shutdown has reemerged as the leaders must reach an agreement on their shared path forward by Friday, March 1. To avoid a shutdown, leaders will either need to reach an agreement on passage of the first four appropriations bills (T-HUD included) or an agreement on yet another continuing resolution (CR) to extend current government funding as negotiations continue.  

What to watch for after Tuesday’s White House Meeting:  

The release of FY 24 appropriations bill text: With negotiations reaching an impasse over the weekend, we saw Congressional leaders shifting blame for the breakdowns on their colleagues in the opposing party. We may see the release of the government funding bill text closely before or closely after the meeting. Congressional leaders hope to sway members of Congress and the public. Releasing the text in the lead-up or follow-up to such a pivotal meeting gives stakeholders across Washington (like NAHRO) the chance to form positions and mobilize stakeholders to act.  

Speaker Johnson’s Tone on Policy Riders: Topline budget numbers have been agreed to already, so breakdowns over the budget rest primarily on the issue of the “policy riders”. Policy riders are policy changes that are attached to “must pass” legislation such as government funding bills. If they make it into the final bill and the bill is signed into law, then those policy changes will also become law. In this case, the policy riders are primarily hard-right conservative priorities that Democrats have committed to opposing. Speaker Johnson faces pressure from the Freedom Caucus to ensure that the policy riders stay in the appropriations bills. To date, the Speaker has publicly affirmed that they will remain.  

Deviating from this promise may signal a willingness to concede ground to Democrats to pass a budget but simultaneously puts him back in the crosshairs of conservative members that removed his predecessor (Kevin McCarthy) from the Speakership. Holding firm to the policy rider issue would keep those members at bay for now but force Johnson to consider another CR or risk a shutdown in an election year. All eyes are on him and what he’ll say once he emerges from this meeting with the President and his peers.   

NAHRO will continue to monitor the White House meeting and any other breaking news on appropriations and will provide updates as information becomes available.  

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