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As shutdown looms, congressional leaders ready stopgap bill to extend government funding to March

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders are preparing a stopgap bill to keep the federal government running into March and avoid a partial shutdown next week.

The temporary measure will run to March 1 for some federal agencies whose approved funds are set to run out Friday and extend the remainder of government operations to March 8. That’s according to a person familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

The stopgap bill, expected to be released Sunday, would come as House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has been under pressure from his hard-right flank in recent days to jettison a recent bipartisan spending deal with Senate Democrats. The bill would need Democratic support to pass the narrowly divided House.

Johnson insisted Friday that he is sticking with the deal he struck with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., despite pressure from some conservatives to renegotiate. Moderates in the party had urged him to stay the course.

Still, in his first big test as the new leader, he has yet to show how he will quell the revolt from his right flank that ousted his predecessor.

“Our top-line agreement remains,” Johnson said Friday, referring to the budget accord reached Jan. 7.

That accord sets $1.66 trillion in spending for the next fiscal year, with $886 billion of the tally going to defense.

Hard-right members have criticized the deal, including several of those who helped oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the speaker’s office last year after he struck a spending deal with Democrats and President Joe Biden. Some have already raised the threat of a motion to oust Johnson over the deal, not even three months after he was elected.

The hard-right flank is also insisting that new immigration policies be included, which they say would stop the record flow of migrants at the U.S-Mexico border.

Johnson met with about two dozen House Republicans this past week, many of them centrist-leaning voices urging him not to go back on his word and stick with the deal. The centrists assured Johnson they have his back.

“I just can’t imagine the House wants to relive the madness,” said Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., who had helped McCarthy negotiate the initial agreement with Biden and the other leaders.

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