Senate Deliberates Late on $1.2T Budget Bill Following House Approval, With Shutdown Deadline Imminent

After House approval, Senate works late on $1.2T budget bill as shutdown deadline nears

The Senate engaged in a late-night debate on Friday over a monumental $1.2 trillion government funding bill, following its passage earlier in the day by the House with a vote of 286-134.

Spanning a hefty 1,000 pages, the legislation comprises six distinct funding bills and faces a pressing deadline by Friday night to prevent a government shutdown.

Without the bill in place by midnight Friday, funding for numerous federally funded agencies is slated to expire.

Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island expressed on X late Friday that a shutdown seemed increasingly likely, pointing fingers at Republicans for proposing amendments that the House, now out of session, cannot entertain.

Any amendments to the bill would necessitate a return to the House for approval. However, with the House adjourned for a two-week period, such a scenario would virtually guarantee a government shutdown.

The House commenced debate on the spending bill at 9 a.m. EDT on Friday before casting their votes at 11 a.m. A total of 101 Republicans joined 184 Democrats in ushering the legislation to the Senate.

Due to the time constraints, the vote was conducted under a suspension of rules, bypassing the customary requirement to first pass a rule, which would likely face opposition from Republicans. Instead, a two-thirds majority was required for the measure to pass.

Senate Deliberates Late on $1.2T Budget Bill Following House Approval, With Shutdown Deadline Imminent
Senate Deliberates Late on $1.2T Budget Bill Following House Approval, With Shutdown Deadline Imminent (Credits: Government Executive)

Despite facing staunch criticism from some House conservatives regarding its spending provisions, the legislation successfully passed.

Both Republican conservatives and House progressives raised objections over a one-year halt in funding for the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees, citing the alleged involvement of some of its personnel in the October 7 attack on Israel.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., acknowledged prior to the vote that bipartisan agreements typically experience defections from both Democrats and Republicans.

If approved, the package would ensure continued operations for three-fourths of the government, encompassing key departments such as Education, Homeland Security, Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and State.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the highest-ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, expressed relief and satisfaction on the floor upon nearing the conclusion of fiscal year 2024.

Anticipated to pass before the midnight deadline, the Senate’s approval would allow both chambers to adjourn for a two-week recess coinciding with Easter.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer emphasized on Friday, prior to the House vote, the imperative of avoiding a government shutdown, highlighting that the nation had not experienced one since 2019.

President Joe Biden affirmed his intention to sign the legislation if it successfully clears the Senate.

The package encompasses increased funding for border protections, a longstanding priority for Republicans, while Democrats secured a $1 billion augmentation in childcare and Head Start funding.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., lauded the FY24 appropriations legislation as a substantial commitment to bolstering national defense, emphasizing a strategic shift towards the Pentagon’s core mission and expanded support for service members.

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