NATIONAL NEWS

Congress unveils $1.2 trillion plan to avert federal shutdown

Mar 21, 2024, 1:03 PM | Updated: Jul 9, 2024, 4:07 pm

Package - U.S. Capitol at twilight...

FILE - The U.S. Capitol is seen at sunrise, Feb. 7, 2024, in Washington. The Senate has passed an emergency spending package that would provide military aid to Ukraine and Israel, replenish U.S. weapons systems and provide food, water and other humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, FIle)

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, FIle)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers introduced a $1.2 trillion spending package Thursday that sets the stage for avoiding a partial government shutdown for several key federal agencies this weekend and allows Congress, nearly six months into the budget year, to complete its work in funding the government through September.

Democrats were largely able to swat back scores of policy mandates and some of the steeper budget cuts that House Republicans were seeking to impose on nondefense programs, though House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., highlighted some policy wins, including a nearly 24% increase in detention beds for migrants awaiting their immigration proceedings or removal from the country.

This year’s spending bills were divided into two packages. The first one cleared Congress two weeks ago, just hours before a shutdown deadline for the agencies funded through the bills.

Congressional leaders announce deal to fund rest of government

Now Congress is focused on the second, larger package, which includes about $886 billion for the Defense Department, a more than 3% increase from last year’s levels. The 1,012-page bill also funds the departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Labor, and others.

“Congress must now race to pass this package before government funding runs out this Friday,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Nondefense spending will be relatively flat compared with the prior year, though some, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, are taking a hit, and many agencies will not see their budgets keep up with inflation.

When combining the two packages, discretionary spending for the budget year will come to about $1.66 trillion. That does not include programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and financing the country’s rising debt.

The House is expected to take the measure up first, on Friday. Then it would move to the Senate where senators would have to agree on taking it up expeditiously to avoid a partial shutdown. Usually, such agreements include votes on proposed amendments to the bill.

Johnson described the bill as a serious commitment to strengthening national defense by moving the Pentagon toward a focus on its core mission while expanding support for those serving in the military. The bill provides for a 5.2% pay increase for service members.

In promoting the bill, Republicans cited several ways it would help Israel. Most notably, they highlighted a prohibition on funding through March 2025 for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which is the main supplier of food, water and shelter to civilians in Gaza.

Republicans are insisting on cutting off funding to the agency after Israel alleged that a dozen employees of the agency were involved in the attack that Hamas conducted in Israel on Oct. 7.

But the prohibition does concern some lawmakers because many relief agencies say there is no way to replace its ability to deliver the humanitarian assistance that the United States and others are trying to send to Gaza, where one-quarter of the 2.3 million residents are starving.

Democrats emphasized that humanitarian assistance will increase overall, though.

Sen. Patty Murray, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also highlighted a $1 billion increase for Head Start programs and new child care centers for military families. Democrats also played up a $120 million increase in funding for cancer research and a $100 million increase for Alzheimer’s research.

“We defeated outlandish cuts that would have been a gut punch for American families and our economy,” said Murray, D-Wash.
She also said Democrats successfully fought off numerous policy measures, known as riders, that House Republicans were seeking to add.

“From Day 1 of this process, I said there would be no extreme, far-right riders to restrict women’s reproductive freedoms — and there aren’t, she said.

Among the few policy provisions that House Republicans did secure was a requirement that only allows for the American flag and “other official flags” to fly over U.S. diplomatic facilities. Under the Biden administration, U.S. embassies have been invited to fly the pride flag or light up with rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ community.

There is also a provision that prevents the Consumer Product Safety Commission from banning gas stoves. But the White House has said President Joe Biden would not support a ban, and the commission, an independent agency, says no such ban was in the works.

The spending in the bill largely tracks with an agreement that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy worked out with the White House in May 2023, which restricted spending for two years and suspended the debt ceiling into 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 Thursday that last year’s agreement, which became the Fiscal Responsibility Act, will save taxpayers about $1 trillion over the coming decade.

McCarthy, R-Calif., was ousted from the speaker’s role a few months after securing the debt ceiling deal. Eight Republicans ended up joining with Democrats in removing McCarthy as speaker. And some of those unhappy with that deal also expressed misgivings about the latest package.

“I hope there will be some modest wins. Unfortunately, I don’t expect that we will get much in the way of significant policy wins based on past history and based on our unwillingness to do use any kind of leverage to force policy wins, meaning a willingness to walk away and say no,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va.

Work on the spending bills has been more bipartisan in the Senate. Murray issued a joint statement after the bill’s release with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, praising the package of bills and urging colleagues to vote for it.

“There is zero need for a shutdown or chaos — and members of Congress should waste no time in passing these six bills, which will greatly benefit every state in America and reflect important priorities of many Senators,” Murray and Collins said.

Johnson said that after the spending package passes, the House would next turn its attention to a bill that focuses on aiding Ukraine and Israel, though lawmakers are scheduled to be away from Washington for the next two weeks. The Senate has already approved a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but Johnson has declined to bring that up for a vote.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, J...

Zeke Miller and Seung Min Kim

Harris wins Pelosi endorsement, claims many of the delegates she needs for the nomination

Vice President Kamala Harris moved swiftly Monday to lock up Democratic delegates behind her campaign for the White House after President Joe Biden stepped aside.

2 hours ago

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: United Sates Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle testifies before th...

Alanna Durkin Richer and Farnoush Amiri

Secret Service director, grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, says: ‘We failed’

The Secret Service director is set to testify before a congressional committee as calls mount for her to resign over security failures at a rally where a 20-year-old gunman attempted to assassinate former President Donald Trump.

5 hours ago

FILE - A Delta Air Lines jet leaves the gate, Friday, July 19, 2024, at Logan International Airport...

Associated Press

Delta Air Lines says cancellations continue as it tries to restore operations after tech outage

Airlines, including Delta Air Lines, continued to struggle to restore operations two days after a faulty software update caused technological havoc worldwide.

6 hours ago

People wait in line at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on July 20 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Me...

Dalia Faheid and Lauren Mascarenhas, CNN

More than 1,500 US flights canceled for the third day straight as airlines slowly recover from global tech outage

More than 1,500 US flights have been canceled for the third day straight, as airlines struggle to recover from a global tech outage that left thousands of passengers stranded at airports.

17 hours ago

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, right, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scen...

Lindsy Bahr, The Associated Press

‘Twisters’ whips up $80.5 million at box office, while ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ looms

Moviegoers ran toward the tornadoes this weekend, propelling “ Twisters ” to a blockbuster opening. The standalone sequel to the 1996 hit made $80.5 million in ticket sales from 4,151 theaters in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday.

19 hours ago

FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2024, in ...

Chris Megerian, The Associated Press

Harris, endorsed by Biden, could become first woman, second Black person to be president

She's already broken barriers, and now Kamala Harris could shatter several more after President Joe Biden abruptly ended his reelection bid and endorsed her.

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Congress unveils $1.2 trillion plan to avert federal shutdown