Congress Unveils Appropriations Bills to Avoid Partial Government Shutdown

Congress unveiled the first six appropriations bills on Sunday to fund the government for most of 2024.

The rollout of the appropriations bills follows Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and other congressional leaders striking a deal to avert a government shutdown and fund the government for most of 2024.

The six appropriations bills would fund the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Justice, Commerce, and Energy. The bipartisan package amounts to 1,050-pages and includes more than $450 billion in funding for the fiscal year 2024.

Both chambers of Congress have to pass the bills by Friday to avert a partial government shutdown. The other six appropriations bills, which are still being drafted, will have to pass by March 22. Republicans and Democrats have had trouble compromising on touchy subjects such as budgets for the Department of Defense, health programs, and education, among others.

Johnson has been under pressure to present Republican wins as conservatives have charged that he had little success negotiating with Democrats.

He said in a statement that Republicans “secured key conservative policy victories, rejected left-wing proposals, and imposed sharp cuts to agencies and programs critical” to Biden’s agenda.

Politico reported:

In touting the funding package finalized on Sunday, Johnson pointed to language that would block the Justice Department from targeting parents who speak before school boards. He also noted policy that would preserve gun rights for military veterans who need fiduciary help with their VA benefits. The Senate adopted those protections as an amendment last fall, but Democrats fought against including it in the final package.

In a win for Democrats, the final deal would provide $7 billion for the WIC nutrition assistance program for moms and babies, a $1 billion increase over current levels. The package does not include a proposal pushed by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) to create a voluntary pilot program aimed at restricting SNAP food aid purchases, which Republicans had offered in exchange for the extra $1 billion that was sought for WIC, which is facing a funding shortfall that would force the program to deny help to some eligible families.

Republicans are touting cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and the FBI.

The bill, however, appears to have 605 pages of earmarks, a feature much hated by conservatives in many must-pass spending bills.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said one earmark grants $1 million to an environmental justice center in New York City:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) touted that the bills do not have “cuts or poison pill riders.”

House Republican leadership would likely have to present the bills under suspension, meaning that the bills have to clear a two-thirds threshold, giving conservatives leverage to fight against them, and that it may receive more Democrat votes than Republican votes.

“The reality is that if you have to pass these things by suspension, you’ve given [Democrats] more strength,” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) said.

He added, “I can’t tell you how many times during negotiations, what we heard from the other side was ‘Hey, we’re going to bring 200 votes to pass these by suspension, what are you going to bring?’”

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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