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Congressional Leaders Sell $1.2 Trillion Spending Package To Members To Avoid Shutdown

 Congressional Leaders Sell $1.2 Trillion Spending Package To Members To Avoid Shutdown

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., and the House. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Congressional leaders from both parties have looked to put a positive light on a $1.2 trillion spending package that  lawmakers are working to approve before funding expires at midnight Friday. This will happen for a host of key government agencies. Text of the legislation had not been released as of Wednesday afternoon, but lawmakers expect an official unveiling early Thursday. The package, which is expected to pass, will wrap up Congress’ work on spending bills for the year.

This year’s dozen spending bills have been packed into two packages. The first one cleared Congress two weeks ago just hours before a shutdown deadline for the agencies funded through the bills. Now Congress is focused on the second, larger package, which includes about $886 billion for defence. The bill also funds the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Labour and others. Non-defence spending is expected to be relatively flat compared to the prior year.

Leaders are working to sell the package to members. Speaker Mike Johnson has described policy changes that House Republicans were able to secure in the latest negotiations in a meeting with GOP lawmakers. This has included a prohibition on funding for a United Nations relief program for Palestinian refugees that extends through March 2025. He also noted the bill funds 8,000 additional detention beds for noncitizens awaiting their immigration proceedings or removal from the country.

“The Homeland (Security) piece was the most difficult to negotiate because the two parties have a wide chasm between them,” Johnson said. “I think the final product is something that we were able to achieve a lot of key provisions in, and wins, and it moved in a direction that we want even with our tiny, historically small majority.”

The House is expected to vote on the second package on Friday, giving lawmakers more than a day to examine the legislation, but in doing so, leadership is bypassing a House rule that calls for giving lawmakers 72 hours to review major legislation before having to vote on it.

Once the bill passes the House, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said he will put it on the Senate floor.

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“Even with bipartisanship, it’s going to be a tight squeeze to get this funding package before the weekend deadline,” Schumer said.

Democrats celebrated staving off the vast majority of policy mandates Republicans had sought to include in the spending bills, such as restricting access to the abortion pill mifepristone or banning access to gender-affirming health care.

“We’re exactly in the position that we knew we were going to end up,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar D-Calif. “We knew that House Democrats, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House weren’t going to tolerate any significant harmful cuts and crazy policy riders.”

Johnson is expected to bring the bill up for a vote through a streamlined process that requires two-thirds support for the bill to pass. The earlier spending package passed by a vote of 339-85 with Republicans providing all but two of the no votes.

“If this bill sits out for two weeks, it will get pilloried like a pinata,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. “So they want to jam it through over the next 48 hours.”

Source: AP