The Senate is moving toward approving a $1.2 trillion funding package in an overnight vote

(J Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

The Senate is moving toward approving a $1.2 trillion funding package in an overnight vote


March 22, 2024

The Senate moved closer to passing a $1.2 trillion package of spending bills late Friday after agreeing on a series of proposed amendments.

then a final vote on passage would take place

a funding deadline at midnight

came and went without a final vote on passage.

The prospects for a short-term government shutdown appeared to grow Friday evening after Republicans said Democrats had rejected their requests for votes on several amendments on border security and other issues. Any successful amendment to the bill would send the legislation back to the House of Representatives, which has already left town for a two-week recess.

But shortly before midnight, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced a breakthrough.

It’s been a very long and difficult day, but we just reached an agreement to complete the government’s funding, Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. It is good for the country that we have reached this bipartisan agreement. It wasn’t easy, but tonight our perseverance paid off.”

While Congress has already approved money for Veterans Affairs, Interior, Agriculture and other agencies, the bill being considered Friday is much larger and provides funding for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State and other aspects of the government.

The White House said it had “a high degree of confidence” that the package would pass and that President Biden would sign it on Saturday.

The House of Representatives had passed the spending bill package earlier Friday, a move that was overdue almost six months into the budget year and would push any threats of a government shutdown into the fall.

The House approved the bill by a vote of 286 to 134, narrowly achieving the two-thirds majority needed to pass it.

fast track

approval. More than 70% of the money would go to defense.

The vote in the House of Representatives reflected anger among Republicans over the contents of the package and the speed with which it was put to a vote. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) brought up the measure even though a majority of Republicans ultimately voted against it. He said afterward that the bill represents the best achievable outcome in a divided government.

In a sign of

conservative frustration, intransigence among the party’s right flank,

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) made an effort to oust Johnson from the presidency as the House began voting, but waited to take further action until the Legislature returned in two weeks. It’s the same tool used last year to oust the last Republican chairman, Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

The vote breakdown showed that 101 Republicans voted in favor of the bill and 112 against. Meanwhile, 185 Democrats voted in favor of the bill and 22 against it.

Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who helped craft the package, resigned from his post after the vote. She said she would remain on the committee to provide advice and provide leadership to colleagues as a teacher when needed.

Johnson split this budget year’s spending bills into two parts as House Republicans rebelled against what has become an annual practice of asking them to vote for one huge, complex bill called an omnibus.

they say,

with little time to review it or face closure. Johnson considered that a breakthrough and said the two-part process was an important step in breaking omnibus muscle memory.

Still, the package was clearly unpopular with most Republicans, who felt it included too few of their policy priorities and spent too much.

The bottom line is this is a complete and total surrender,” said Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.).

It has taken six months in the current budget year for legislation to approach the finish line on public funding. The process was slowed by conservatives pushing for more policy mandates and sharper cuts than a Democratic-led Senate or the White House would consider. The impasse required some short-term emergency legislation to keep the agencies funded.

The first set of spending bills for the entire year

which funded the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture and the Interior, among others,

Congress authorized two weeks ago to save hours before funding expires

those agencies Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Interior and other departments.

When the two packages are combined, discretionary spending for the budget year will amount to about $1.66 trillion. That doesn’t include programs like Social Security and Medicare, or financing the country’s rising debt burden.

To win Republican support, Johnson touted some of the spending increases committed to about 8,000 additional detention beds for migrants awaiting immigration proceedings or removal from the country. That’s an increase of about 24% from current levels. Republican leadership also emphasized that more money was needed to hire about 2,000 Border Patrol agents.

Democrats, meanwhile, are boasting a $1 billion increase for Head Start programs and new child care centers for military families. They also pitched a $120 million increase in funding for cancer research and a $100 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research.

Make no mistake, we had to work under very tough top numbers and fight off literally hundreds of extreme Republican poison pills from the House of Representatives, not to mention some unthinkable budget cuts, said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the Democratic chairman of the Senate. Appropriations Committee. But ultimately, this is a bill that will move our country and our families forward.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on that committee, appealed to her Republican colleagues, saying the bill’s spending on non-defense programs actually decreases even before inflation is taken into account. She called the package conservative and carefully drafted.

These bills are not major spending bills that are completely out of scope, Collins said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called on the Senate to pass the spending bill as quickly as possible.

This bill is a compromise, she said. “No party got everything it wanted.

The spending in the bill largely matches an agreement then-Speaker McCarthy struck with the White House in May 2023, which capped spending for two years and suspended the debt ceiling until January 2025 so the federal government could continue paying its bills .

Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told lawmakers that last year’s deal, which became the Fiscal Responsibility Act, will save the federal government about $1 trillion over the next decade.

Freking and Jalonick write for the Associated Press. AP writers Lisa Mascaro, Farnoush Amiri and Chris Megerian contributed to this report.


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