Biden signs budget package hours before federal agency shutdown deadline

WASHINGTON (AP) β€” U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday signed a Senate-passed $460 billion spending bill package to protect several key federal agencies from closure. The success of the measure puts lawmakers halfway to completing their appropriations work for the 2024 budget year.

The measure consists of six annual spending bills and has already been approved by the House of Representatives. When signing it into law, Biden thanked leaders of both parties and negotiators in both Houses for their work, which the White House said will allow agencies “to continue their normal operations.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers are negotiating a second package of six bills, including a defense bill, to fully fund all federal agencies by the March 22 deadline.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said Friday night, hours before the deadline, after senators approved the measure, “For those who are worried that divided government never means anything, “This bipartisan package tells them otherwise.”

The Senate approved the project by 75 votes in favor and 22 against. MPs tried to vote on several amendments and voice their opinions on the project and other priorities during the debate in the House. By the afternoon it was unclear whether senators could avoid a brief shutdown, although final approval was never really in doubt.

“I urge my colleagues to stop playing with fire,” said Senator Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. β€œIt would be irresponsible for us not to pass these bills and do the important work of funding the government. What is more important?”

With more than five months left in the current budget year, congressional leaders turned to a series of stopgap bills to keep federal agencies funded for a few more weeks or months as they try to reach an agreement. Were struggling for. Agree on expenditure for the entire year.

Ultimately, total discretionary spending set by Congress for the full budget year ending September 30 is expected to be approximately $1.66 trillion.

Republicans were able to keep non-defense spending relatively unchanged from the previous year. Those in favor of it call it progress in an era when annual federal deficits of more than $1 trillion are the norm. But many Republican lawmakers sought even deeper cuts and more political victories.

The House Freedom Caucus, which includes dozens of the most conservative Republicans, urged Republican lawmakers to vote against the first spending package, and the second is still under negotiation.

Democrats avoided most of the policy riders that Republicans had sought to include in the package. For example, he rejected an effort to block new rules that would expand access to the abortion pill mifepristone. They were also able to fully fund the nutrition program for low-income women, infants, and children, known as the WIC program, providing approximately $7 billion. This represents an increase of $1 billion over the previous year.

Nevertheless, Republicans achieved some political victories. One provision would block the sale of oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China. Another policy order prevents the Justice Department from investigating parents who exercise their free speech at school board meetings.

Another provision strengthens the right to bear arms for some veterans, although opponents of the measure believe it could make it easier for people suffering from serious mental illnesses such as dementia to obtain firearms.

However, with a divided Congress and the White House in the hands of the Democrats, there is no chance of any bill getting the approval of members of both parties.

The bill also includes more than 6,600 projects requested by individual lawmakers, costing approximately $12.7 billion.

(Tags to translate) House of Representatives(T) Joe Biden(T) Bill(T) Million Dollar(T) United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve

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