The House will no longer have its two-week recess at the end of next month in order to buy time for lawmakers to finalize their must-pass spending bills for fiscal 2024, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA)’s leadership team announced on Friday.
Lawmakers were scheduled to adjourn for two weeks at the end of February but will now return for votes on Feb. 28-29 as well as March 1 to ensure appropriations bills are passed ahead of the next government shutdown deadline. The change comes after the House passed a short-term continuing resolution on Thursday extending its next spending deadline to March 1, after which several federal agencies will lapse in funding if a budget is not passed.
Under the newly passed stopgap funding bill, Congress has until March 1 to pass appropriations for Agriculture; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Energy and Water.
After that, they’ll have one week to pass the remaining spending bills for Commerce, Justice, and Science; the Department of Defense; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Interior and Environment departments; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; the Legislative Branch; and State and Foreign Operations. Those must be completed by March 8.
The new timeline sets the stage for what is expected to be a dragged-out negotiation process, especially as House conservatives have griped about the $1.66 trillion top-line number.
The House has already passed seven of its 12 appropriations bills so far, putting it further on track than the Senate, which has only passed three. Once both chambers have individually advanced their spending bills, lawmakers will meet for negotiations to craft a finalized version. Those must then pass through the House and Senate before being sent to Biden for final approval.