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Biden signs $1.2 trillion spending plan to avoid government shutdown

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Biden signs $1.2 trillion spending plan to avoid government shutdown

President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 billion budget bill into law Saturday to keep the U.S. government funded through a fiscal year that began six months ago and to avoid a partial shutdown, according to a press release issued by the White House.

“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 the statement.

The bill passed the Senate after midnight by a vote of 74-24. This occurred after funding for government agencies expired, but the White House sent a notice shortly after the deadline announcing that The Office of Management and Budget had ceased preparations for the shutdown because there was a high degree of confidence that Congress would pass the legislation and that President I would sign it on Saturday.

“Because federal funds obligations are incurred and tracked daily, agencies will not close their doors and will be able to continue normal operations,” the White House statement said.

Prospects of a near-term government shutdown appeared to be growing Friday night after Republicans and Democrats sparred over proposed amendments to the bill. Any successful amendment to the bill would have sent the bill back to the House, which had already left town for a two-week recess.

But shortly before midnight, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a breakthrough.

“This has been a very long and difficult day, but we have just reached an agreement to complete the work of funding the government,” Schumer said. “It’s a good thing for the country that we reached this bipartisan agreement. It wasn’t easy, but tonight our perseverance was worth it.

The news came hours after the House voted 286-134 to pass the bill, which will fund the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security and others through September .

U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of 22 House Democrats who voted against the $1.2 trillion spending program over six months. The package includes a ban on direct U.S. funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, an agency providing critical assistance to Gaza, until March 2025.

Biden has already said he will sign the bill “immediately” as soon as it reaches his desk. The president signed a spending bill covering the rest of the federal government earlier this month, so all agencies are now funded for the remainder of the fiscal year, eliminating any threat of shutdowns through October.

The bill’s approval ends a tumultuous appropriations process that has forced Congress to pass four stopgap funding bills, known as continuing resolutions, since the start of the fiscal year in october. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, praised lawmakers who helped bring closure to the process but lamented the considerable delay in reaching a resolution.

“It should never have taken us this long to get here,” Murray said during a speech Friday. “We should not be on the verge of closure and moving from one CR to another. »

The Senate vote played out over time. Members had to unanimously agree to expedite passage of the bill, and some Republicans raised objections to the expedited process, insisting on adopting amendments to the proposal.

Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, attacked congressional leaders for releasing the lengthy bill early Thursday morning and holding a final vote a day later.

“Why are we facing a deadline? Because they only gave us the 1,000-page bill on Thursday at 2:30 in the morning,” Paul said in a speech. “Do you think we should read it?” Do you think we should know what’s in it?

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Paul warned that the bill is “packed with about $2 billion in earmarked funds at a time when we can’t afford additional debt,” calling on his colleagues to block the proposal.

Rejecting that line of criticism, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, reminded her colleagues that members of both chambers spent months negotiating funding levels.

“Each bill – every single one – has been subject to extensive debate and amendment. Many of them passed unanimously,” Collins said. “No one can say they were not available for review, since we reported the last of them to committee last July.”

Murray blamed far-right Republicans for repeatedly undermining the functioning of the federal government and urged his colleagues to “learn from the hard lessons of recent months about how we can get things done in a divided government.” “.

“The far-right elements who have caused this dysfunction claim to care a lot about fiscal responsibility, but the constant chaos they create is the opposite of fiscal responsibility,” Murray said. “Working together, focusing on solutions, solving the problems of people here: this is the responsible way to get things done. »

With Associated Press

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