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Congress scrambles to avoid a looming partial government shutdown

Here's a look at the chances of a government shutdown later this week and why this latest battle to avoid one is much trickier than the previous one.
Congress scrambles to avoid a looming partial government shutdown
Posted at 11:33 AM, Mar 18, 2024

Washington, D.C., is bracing for yet another funding fight this week, as members of Congress have until Friday to pass multiple spending bills or face a partial government shutdown.

If you think this sounds familiar, you're exactly right. Lawmakers faced a similar deadline two weeks ago but were able to avert a  shutdown by passing a short-term spending bill to fund some parts of the government.

It's widely expected Congress will do the same thing this week. But getting there will mean coming together on some pretty controversial issues.

Here are the three main obstacles facing lawmakers as the week begins:

The U.S.-Mexico border

Part of this week's spending bills includes funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over policies and programs relating to the southern U.S. border. It's been a politically controversial topic, and any funding deal regarding this agency runs the risk of upsetting lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

SEE MORE: Biden's 2025 budget plan details vision for potential second term

UNRWA

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has also been a source of some controversy following the Oct. 7, 2023, attack by Hamas in Israel. There are reports that 12 employees with the agency may have been involved in the attacks and that has prompted President Joe Biden to suspend funding.

An investigation by the United Nations is expected to be completed by late April.

As for Congress, the question is over whether lawmakers vote to permanently ban funding for the agency this week. Some conservatives want that but some Democrats are weary.

Election grants

With the general election less than eight months away, many local and state governments are finalizing their operations to protect the vote — something that can be costly. Groups have called on Congress to offer more grants than previous years — something that can be controversial.

More details on how Congress plans to avoid a possible shutdown are expected soon. But votes are not anticipated until later this week.


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