Lawmakers Unveil $1.2 Trillion Government Funding Package Ahead of Shutdown Deadline

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The United States Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 8.

The legislators released a $1.2 trillion government funding package Thursday, setting a high-stakes sprint to pass legislation as the closing deadline approaches at the end of the week.

It’s still unclear whether lawmakers will be able to pass the legislation before Friday’s deadline, raising concerns on Capitol Hill that there could be a short-term disruption in government funding over the weekend.

With the publication of the legislative text that has more than 1,000 pages, The House and Senate now face a major time crunch in getting the legislation to completion. A number of critical government operations must be funded by the end of the day Friday, March 22, including the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, State, and the legislative branch.

Shortly after the bill was released, President Mike Johnson issued a statement, saying the legislation is “a serious commitment to strengthening our national defense by keeping the Pentagon focused on its core mission while expanding the I stand with our brave men and women who serve in uniform.”

Top lawmakers from both parties have expressed a desire to avoid a partial shutdown, but challenges still lie ahead.

Before the text was released, Johnson said Wednesday that he is “hopeful” the House can pass the legislation to avoid a funding gap before Friday’s midnight deadline.

Johnson has so far been noncommittal on whether House Republican leaders would adhere to a rule intended to give members 72 hours to review the bill’s text before a vote.

The Louisiana Republican faces an extremely narrow Republican majority and pushback from his right flank for his handling of the government funding fight, and will need significant Democratic support to pass the legislation in his chamber.

In the Senate, agreement from all 100 senators will be needed to quickly pass the legislation, and any senator’s objection could derail a quick vote and delay the process.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Congress is “close” to avoiding a partial government shutdown, but warned it will be “tight” to pass the funding package before the deadline.

“As soon as the bill passes the House, I will bring it to the full Senate,” Schumer said Wednesday. “It’s no secret that it will be difficult to get these funding bills passed before the weekend deadline. “That’s why I ask all my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, in the House and Senate, to be flexible and prepared so we can finish the appropriations process.”

The package provides $19.6 billion for Customs and Border Protection, an increase of $3.2 billion over fiscal year 2023, and includes $495 million for additional Border Patrol agents, which the Biden administration has repeatedly requested. It does not add funds for the border wall.

The package also provides nearly $90 billion in discretionary funding to the Department of Homeland Security, bolstering funding for additional resources. Funds 41,500 detention beds, more than the previous fiscal year and Biden’s request, according to the GOP summary. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had recently drafted plans reduce detention space and, as a result, release immigrants to cover their budget deficit.

The bill also increases funding for the Department of Defense, providing $824.3 billion, an increase of $26.8 billion over fiscal year 2023.

It also provides 12,000 additional special immigrant visas for Afghans who helped the United States.

The bill repealed poison pills that would have reduced the salaries of members of the administration, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other officials to $1, and blocked funds for diversity, equity programs and inclusion in the defense and intelligence sectors. communities and prohibited the flying of the Pride flag.

It also removes an amendment that would have cut funding for Head Start by $750 million and instead increases funding by $1 billion above 2023 funding levels for Child Care and Head Start.

The current fiscal year began more than five months ago, on October 1, 2023. Since then, lawmakers have faced a series of fiscal cliffs as a result of the funding deadlines created by short-term extensions.

Earlier this month, he finally approved funding for the remainder of the fiscal year when he approved a separate funding package of six bills. signed into law by President Joe Bidenwhich included funds for the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Veterans Affairs, Energy, Interior, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, military construction and other federal programs.

Now, Congress is finally close to completing the annual appropriations package, assuming it can pass this latest batch of government funding bills.

If a temporary interruption in federal funding were to occur, it would likely have only a limited impact on government operations if funding were restored before the end of the weekend.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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