Congress announces a deal to avoid a shutdown, resolving homeland security dispute

The last big sticking point to avoid a government shutdown had been money for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration enforcement.


WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders and President Joe Biden announced a deal Tuesday morning to fund the government ahead of a weekend deadline, breaking an impasse regarding money for the Department of Homeland Security, which had held up talks.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., announced the DHS deal in a statement, saying it will allow Congress to finish funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in September. “House and Senate committees have begun drafting bill text to be prepared for release and consideration by the full House and Senate as soon as possible,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., echoed news of the agreement, saying both chambers are now “in the process of finalizing text and reports for Congress to closely review and consider ASAP.”

They didn't immediately reveal details.

Congress will need to move quickly. Funding is set to expire Saturday morning for the departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Labor and Health and Human Services and a host of other agencies. The other five funding bills were effectively settled by the end of last week, with only the Homeland Security bill presenting deep divisions Republicans and Democrats were unable to settle.

The deal, which three sources familiar with the talks confirmed to NBC News on Monday night, will include a full-year DHS funding bill and not a stopgap, as negotiators had previously been considering.

The U.S. Capitol in 2023.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images file

It will still be difficult for Congress to pass the spending package in time. Johnson has indicated he’ll give lawmakers 72 hours to read the text before a vote. The Senate will then require unanimous consent from all members to vote by 11:59 p.m. ET Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown the following day.

“We have come to an agreement with Congressional leaders on a path forward for the remaining full-year funding bills,” Biden said. “The House and Senate are now working to finalize a package that can quickly be brought to the floor, and I will sign it immediately.”

Heading into the weekend, negotiators were poised to release a package that would fund DHS separately on an extended stopgap basis, largely continuing the status quo, before reviving attempts to negotiate a full-year funding bill for the department through the end of September.

A source familiar with negotiations said the White House and other Democrats wanted more border security and enforcement money, while another source said Republicans wanted to reprioritize DHS funds toward the agency’s core mission, without elaborating.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., emphasized that the DHS provision was negotiated between the White House and GOP.

“House and Senate negotiators have reached an agreement in principle with respect to the six remaining fiscal year 2024 spending bills, following the completion of negotiations between the Biden administration and House Republicans related to the appropriation of Homeland Security funding,” he said.

Congress broke up the process of funding the federal government into two and passed the first tranche of bills earlier this month. The political salience of immigration, particularly among conservatives, has presented a land mine for Johnson.

On Monday afternoon, two leaders of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, Reps. Bob Good, R-Va., and Chip Roy, R-Texas, issued a letter from 41 Republicans demanding that any DHS funding bill include “the core elements of H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act,” or Biden’s immigration policies won’t change, they said.

“Therefore, we ask you to join us in rejecting the appropriations package (or anything similar) slated to be before the House that will directly fund these disastrous policies, and choose instead to stand against this assault on the American people,” they wrote.

The hard-right members are widely expected to vote against the package, and their votes aren’t necessary to create the bipartisan coalition necessary to pass the bill. But those members can create political headaches for Johnson if they’re sufficiently angry about it.

It’s highly unusual for Congress to continue haggling over government funding nearly half a year into the fiscal year. Funding for fiscal year 2025 is due by the end of September.