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Congress unveils latest funding package, tops $1 trillion with deadline to fund government looming

PoliticsCongress unveils latest funding package, tops $1 trillion with deadline to fund government looming

The heads of the House and Senate appropriations committees dropped the last massive funding package of the current spending cycle Thursday, teeing up an end to the spending fight.

The $1.2 trillion package includes funding for six agencies: the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, State and Foreign Operations, Legislative Branch and Services, Financial Services and Labor. They constitute about 70% of Congress’ constitutionally obligated funding responsibilities.

Congress has until midnight Friday to pass the package to avert a partial government shutdown.

House Speaker Mike Johnson touted conservative policy wins throughout the package — such as an increase to 42,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement beds, slashing nongovernmental organization funding by 20% and providing for 22,000 border patrol agents in the DHS bill.

Those policy tweaks and spending bumps were designed to bolster enforcement of border laws, which have been a sticking point for Republicans who say President Biden and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have not stopped the flood of illegal immigration.

“While these changes are welcome, only a significant reversal in policy by the president to enforce the law can ultimately secure our border,” Mr. Johnson, Louisiana Republican, said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: CBO: Republican spending deal improved Uncle Sam’s fiscal outlook

Late negotiations among the GOP-led House, Democrat-run Senate and the White House to include the DHS funding bill slowed the package, which was supposed to drop over the weekend.

A deal was struck Monday, causing lawmakers to work overtime to draft a new package.

When a vote will happen is unclear, and Mr. Johnson has not committed to waiving an oft-ignored House rule that gives lawmakers 72 hours to review legislation amid pushback from Republicans demanding time to pour over the bill’s 1,000 pages.

Democrats similarly touted wins in the package, noting that they were able to stave off “outlandish cuts” and “extreme” conservative measures, like more stringent border security policy from the House GOP’s marquee Secure the Border Act and halting the Pentagon’s abortion travel reimbursement policy.

“From day one of this process, I said there would be no extreme, far-right riders to restrict women’s reproductive freedoms — and there aren’t,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, said in a statement. “Democrats stood firm to protect a woman’s right to choose in these negotiations and focused on delivering investments that matter to working people.”

Among the Democratic policy wins are 12,000 Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan refugees and a $1 billion investment in Head Start programs across the country.

Other notable policy and spending changes touted by Mr. Johnson include: 

    •    A $27 billion bump to the Defense Department.

    •    A 5.2% pay increase for service members. 

    •    $1.2 billion to stanch the flow of fentanyl and other illicit drugs. 

    •    A continuation of $3.3 billion in annual funding to Israel. 

    •    Slashing 6% in overall foreign aid funding.

    •    Eliminating funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and U.N. Commission of Inquiry against Israel following allegations that a dozen UNRWA employees aided or participated in Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel.

    •    Clawing back $20.2 billion from the IRS and $6 billion in unused COVID-19 funds.

    •    Halting the Consumer Product Safety Commission from banning gas stoves.

    •    Maintaining the Hyde Amendment.

    •    Allowing only the American flag and other official flags to fly over U.S. diplomatic facilities.

“Overall, during the FY24 appropriations process, House Republicans have achieved significant conservative policy wins, rejected extreme Democrat proposals, and imposed substantial cuts to wasteful agencies and programs while strengthening border security and national defense,” Mr. Johnson said.

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