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Almost Half Of The Government Halfway To Being Funded For Last Half Of Budget Year

The House passed a bill Wednesday that would end the threat of a government shutdown for some of the smaller agencies, even as the deadline for funding the rest of the government nears.

The bill now moves on to the Senate. Once passed there, as is expected, it’ll head to President Joe Biden’s desk, where he will sign it. The vote Wednesday was 339 to 85.

While the vote was overwhelming, it again displayed the fissures within the House Republican Party. Members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hardline conservative and libertarian Republicans, voted against the bill because it did not cut spending enough and because GOP negotiators failed to win policy concessions from Democrats.

The legislation “surrenders Republicans’ leverage to force radical Democrats to the table to truly secure the southern border and end the purposeful, dangerous mass release of illegal aliens into the United States,” the group said in a letter Tuesday.

But after passing four previous bills just to keep the government open temporarily, many Republicans joined with almost all Democrats in favor of the bill and finally ending the series of shutdown showdowns — at least for the parts of the government this particular bill pays for.

“We’re very happy now that we’re finally to the point where we can get FY ’24 done and then turn our attention to FY ’25,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Johnson acknowledged that some in his party were upset with the bill, but said it was important to break out of the habit of passing one huge combo bill with funding for all the agencies.

“You can’t turn an aircraft carrier overnight,” he said.

Wednesday’s bill provides funding through the end of the current budget year, Sept. 30, for many of the smaller, lower-profile federal agencies, including the Energy, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development departments and the Environmental Protection Agency.

But lawmakers still need to work out deals for the two most expensive federal agencies, the Defense Department and the Health and Human Services Department.

Democrats were happy they were able to protect top priorities in food and nutrition programs for pregnant women and the poor in the bill. But there were a few defeats.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Wednesday he would vote against the bill when it got to the Senate over a provision he said would expand access to guns for “mentally incompetent” military veterans.

And Pennsylvania’s Democratic senators withdrew their support for an LGBTQ community center that was set to receive $1 million under the bill. The move came after a high-profile conservative Twitter account misleadingly claimed the center hosts sex parties.

Sen. John Fetterman said he supported the center but when faced with the choice of seeing it publicly attacked or pulling his support for its funding and fighting for it in the next round of spending bills, he chose the latter course. The other senator, Bob Casey, said he pulled the funding after “new information” about the center came to light, his spokesperson said.

Assuming Wednesday’s bill is signed by Saturday, when the agencies covered by it would lose funding, the next deadline for avoiding a partial government shutdown will be March 22.

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