Congress enacts third stopgap to fund government through March 2024 to avoid government shutdown

US Capitol in winter

Key Takeaways

On January 18, both the U.S. House and Senate passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend current federal appropriations through March 2024 and avoid a government shutdown as lawmakers work to finalize Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 appropriations based on the nearly $1.6 trillion bipartisan topline framework agreement. This is the third stopgap measure Congress will consider since FY 2024 began on October 1, 2023.

The "laddered" CR that was enacted in November 2023 extended appropriations through January 19, 2024 and February 2, 2024 respectively. Additional information on these deadlines can be found here. However Congress was able to clear this new CR prior to the January 19 deadline and therefore avoided a partial government shutdown. 

Like November 2023 CR, this latest iteration is also "laddered," meaning it has two separate expiration dates for two groups of annual spending bills:

  • NEW Deadline #1: Agriculture-Rural Development, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, Energy & Water, and Transportation-HUD - through March 1, 2024
  • NEW Deadline #2: Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Financial Services & General Government, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch, and State & Foreign Operations - through March 8, 2024

As Congress works to finalize FY 2024 appropriations by these new deadline, lawmakers must also be mindful of the spending limits and deadlines imposed by the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA). Breaches of the FRA discretionary spending limits for defense and nondefense spending in FY 2024 could trigger sequestration cuts. In December 2023, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memo stating that if final FY 2024 appropriations are not in place by April 30, 2024, then sequestration could be triggered.

What's on the sequestration table? All non-exempt discretionary funding, much of which funds key federal programs that counties rely on.

As key intergovernmental partners, counties applaud the U.S. Congress for acting in a bipartisan manner to avoid a federal government shutdown and urge our federal partners to quickly pass FY 2024 appropriations.

To access counties' FY 2024 spending priorities, click here.

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