© 2024
Local NPR for the Cape, Coast & Islands 90.1 91.1 94.3
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Biden signs a $1.2 trillion funding package, averting a partial government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 20, 2024. The Senate voted in the very early hours Saturday morning on the final six appropriations bills.
Anna Moneymaker
/
Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 20, 2024. The Senate voted in the very early hours Saturday morning on the final six appropriations bills.

Updated March 23, 2024 at 1:45 PM ET

President Biden signed a $1.2 trillion funding package that the Senate approved in the early hours Saturday morning to prevent a partial government shutdown. The House passed the bills on Friday.

The package, approved on a Senate vote of 74-24, funds the federal government until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Biden applauded the bipartisan package, but said Congress had more work to do on national security and border legislation.

"The bipartisan funding bill I just signed keeps the government open, invests in the American people, and strengthens our economy and national security," Biden said in a statement released by the White House. "That's good news for the American people."

"It has been a very long and difficult day, but we have just reached an agreement to complete the job of funding the government," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said late Friday night before the vote. "It is good for the country that we have reached this bipartisan deal. It wasn't easy but tonight our persistence has been worth it."

Minutes after the clock struck midnight — the deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown — the White House weighed in.

"[The Office of Management and Budget] has ceased shutdown preparations because there is a high degree of confidence that Congress will imminently pass the relevant appropriations and the President will sign the bill on Saturday," the White House said in a statement given to the press pool. "Because obligations of federal funds are incurred and tracked on a daily basis, agencies will not shut down and may continue their normal operations."

The funding package includes defense, homeland security, financial services and general government, labor-HHS, the legislative branch, and state-foreign operations. The bills needed two-thirds support in the House and was approved on a vote of 286-134.

The Friday House vote could have consequences for Speaker Mike Johnson. GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia filed a motion to remove him as Speaker.

There were warning signs Thursday night that the vote may be tighter than GOP leadership expected.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., who chairs the Labor-HHS subcommittee, said he'd be voting against the package because of earmarks senators on both sides of the aisle inserted into the bill.

"This is not the bill that my subcommittee produced and supported. The Senate has taken liberties with their Congressionally Directed Spending requests that would never stand in the House," he said in a statement.

Republican members also expressed disappointment that the package didn't go further on strengthening the Southern border and criticized the narrow timeframe between the 1000+ page text'srelease early Thursday morning and the Friday vote.

But Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on defense, urged his colleagues to vote for the package.

"Every member must understand the impact of not passing this package. The only other option will be a full year continuing resolution, which will devastate our national security and put our country at risk," he said ahead of the House vote. "A no vote is a vote for China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Hamas."

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, and education, said the package represents a compromise.

"This legislation does not have everything either side may have wanted," she said. "But I am satisfied that many of the extreme cuts and the policies proposed by House Republicans were rejected."

She noted her work with other House and Senate Appropriators — Rep. Kay Granger of Texas and Sens. Collins of Maine and Murray of Washington "marks the first time negotiations on government funding have been led on all four corners by women."

What's in the package?

The package has wins for both Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans are touting an increase in the number of ICE detention beds and border agents and cutting funding to NGOs. They're also trumpeting a provision that prevents the Consumer Product Safety Commission from banning gas stoves and another that prevents diplomatic facilities from flying flags that aren't official U.S. flags.

Democrats are praising a $1 billion increase for childcare and early learning programs, including $12 billion for the Head Start program.

Another provision getting a lot of attention is the measure that halts funding for UNWRA, the United Nations Agency that provides aid to Palestinians, until March of 2025. This comes after Israel alleged that a dozen UNWRA staffers took part in Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7.

Other provisions in the package:

What this means for Speaker Johnson

Under House rules, it only takes one lawmaker to bring up a vote to oust the speaker. Greene's motion to remove Johnson, months after House Republicans ousted then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is not privileged, meaning it's unclear if or when it will be brought to the floor for a vote.

Johnson presides over a razor thin, one-vote majority, with Colorado GOP Rep. Ken Buck resigning from the House on Friday and Wisconsin GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher announcing Friday he's resigning effective April 19.

Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good, R-Va., told reporters ahead of the vote that he blames Johnson for bringing the package to the floor for a vote in the first place. He said he didn't want to talk about personnel issues within GOP leadership, but said he "can't defend the speaker."

Johnson's challenge only deepens next month as the House will debate funding for Ukraine, an issue that divides his conference.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.