White House, Johnson close out Homeland Security negotiations holding up final funding deal

Top negotiators have locked in a bipartisan deal on full-year funding for the Department of Homeland Security, allowing congressional leaders to put the finishing touches on a broader spending agreement in the coming days, according to two sources familiar with the talks.

A short stopgap funding patch could still be needed to head off a partial government shutdown at midnight Saturday morning for the Pentagon and many key non-defense agencies, since bill text is likely to take at least another day to finalize.

The fiscal 2024 accord on Homeland Security cash follows days of harried negotiations and a last-minute intervention from the White House over the weekend, with Biden administration officials rejecting a fallback plan that would have saddled the agency with stagnant funding through September. The White House had insisted that a year-long stopgap for DHS would prove detrimental to border security efforts, in anticipation of a migration surge this spring.

The Homeland Security spending measure joins five other bills needed to fund about 70 percent of the federal government, including the military and major health programs, before a partial government shutdown hits Saturday after midnight. The eleventh hour negotiations over DHS, the most contentious of the spending bills, has pushed Congress perilously closer to that deadline.

Legislative text of the six-bill funding bundle is now expected late Tuesday or Wednesday, potentially teeing up a House vote on Friday at the earliest, if Speaker Mike Johnson adheres to a pledge to give Republicans 72 hours to review legislative text. Once the package passes the House, Senate leaders will need consent from all 100 senators to ensure speedy votes on the spending package. That task is already expected to be politically tricky, with Republicans likely to demand a swath of amendment votes on issues ranging from immigration to earmarks.

Besides budgets for the military and DHS, the package congressional leaders are aiming to clear for Biden’s signature in the coming days covers funding for health, education, housing and labor programs. It also includes funding for foreign operations, the IRS, congressional operations and the District of Columbia, along with the departments of State and Treasury.