Congress prepares stopgap bill to prolong government funding until March as shutdown approaches.

Washington — Congressional leaders are developing a stopgap plan to prevent a partial shutdown next week and keep the government functioning into March.

For several federal agencies whose approved funds expire Friday, the interim legislation will prolong government operations to March 1 and March 8. A source told me that on condition of anonymity.

The stopgap bill, due Sunday, comes as House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has been pressured by his hard-right fringe to abandon a bipartisan spending deal with Senate Democrats. To pass the finely split House, Democrats must approve the package.

Despite conservative pressure to renegotiate, Johnson said Friday he will adhere to his pact with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Moderate party members advised him to continue.

In his first major test as leader, he has yet to demonstrate how he would subdue the right wing uprising that removed his predecessor.

“Our top-line agreement remains,” Johnson said Friday of the Jan. 7 budget deal. That pact allocates $1.66 trillion in spending for the upcoming fiscal year, $886 billion to defense.

Many hard-right members, notably those who helped ouster Kevin McCarthy last year after he signed a budget deal with Democrats and President Joe Biden, have blasted the arrangement. Not even three months after Johnson was elected, some have threatened to unseat him over the pact.

The hard-right wants new immigration rules to curb the record migrant influx at the U.S.-Mexico border. Johnson met with around two dozen moderate House Republicans this week, many of whom urged him to keep the arrangement. Centrists assured Johnson of their support. “I just can't imagine the House wants to relive the madness,” said Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., who helped McCarthy negotiate the first accord with Biden and other leaders.

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