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UPDATE 4-US Congress leaders reach deal on FY24 spending bills, averting government shutdown

(Adds detail on planned Thursday vote on temporary funding bill)

By Makini Brice and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Democratic and Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday announced they had reached a deal for advancing the 12 annual bills that fund an array of federal programs for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, and could also avert government shutdowns on Saturday.

The pact approved by House of Representatives and Senate leaders would pave the way for votes on a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating normally through newly-set March 8 and March 22 deadlines, giving lawmakers time to examine and debate the full-year funding bills.

The temporary measure will be "voted on by the House and Senate this week," said the joint statement by House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries and the leaders of the two chambers' appropriations panels.

Republican Representative Kevin Hern told reporters the temporary funding bill, which would be the fourth of the fiscal year that began last Oct. 1, would be put to a House vote on Thursday.

If it were to fail it would bring the federal government to the brink of partial shutdowns early on Saturday.

Both parties' leaders will now work on explaining the deal to their rank-and-file with the goal of convincing enough of them to back the arrangement.

The deal would put six of the 12 funding bills on a path to passage by March 8 with the remainder by March 22.

(Reporting by Makini Brice, Richard Cowan and David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone, Lincoln Feast, Jonathan Oatis and Chris Reese)

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