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Congress Passes Annual Spending Bill Just Hours After the Deadline 

Written by Eliza Dorton

Edited by Annika Lilja



On March 22nd, the Senate passed the long-awaited spending bill for the fiscal year. The bill, originally set to move through Congress at the end of last September, included $1.2 trillion to fund over half of the government until September 30, 2024. The bill had a deadline of 12:00 AM on Friday, March 22nd. The House passed the bill around noon on Thursday, March 21, but it took the Senate until 12:00 AM the next morning to complete negotiations and until 2:00 AM to pass the bill. Subsequently, the government shut down briefly for almost two hours. Because of the two-week recess ahead, most Senators were likely eager to catch their flights home. Once the bill passed, the Senate sent it to President Biden to sign it into law. 


The Senate took approximately 12 hours to reach an agreement, mostly due to the Senate Appropriation Committee leadership’s lengthy negotiations with Republican Senators, who opposed the bill without reasons of their own to vote for it. 

At midnight, the committee leadership finally reached agreements with several Senators, who all required amendments to legislation for them to vote in favor of the spending bill. The bill itself could not receive amendments because the House members had already left for the two-week recess. 


For those amendments to be guaranteed, the Senate voted on all nine of them within the span of two hours. The 10th and final vote was the one on the budget, and it passed 74-24. The Senate needed more than the majority to pass this kind of bill, and they exceeded the votes needed by 14. 


It took Congress almost six months to reach an agreement on the annual budget; the longevity can be accredited to disputes over the United States’ role in helping Ukraine in the Russia-Ukraine War, border security, immigration, and more. 


Primarily, the Democrats supported funding for Ukraine to be included in the budget, while Republicans pushed for stronger security at the border and continuous anti-immigration policies. The last thing Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate wanted was a government shutdown, so funding for Ukraine was left out of the bill, and additional border patrol was included in it. 


On the House side, the bill was mostly voted for by Democrats, creating a stir and uneasiness surrounding the far-right Speaker Mike Johnson’s leadership in the house among the GOP. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene even filed a motion to vacate the speaker, who chose to save the government from a shutdown regardless of the views of his own party.  


A shutdown means many non-essential government employees would not receive their paychecks and potentially be unable to pay their rent or other bills, which can be extremely harmful and cause much uncertainty. 


Overall, many lawmakers believe that keeping the government from a shutdown proves better for the country and prevails over their party’s agenda. The spending bill did not include all that each side wanted, but it kept the government and people’s livelihoods safe for the fiscal year. 


 

Sources:


Edmondson, Catie. "Congress Passes Spending Bill in Wee Hours to Fend off Shutdown." The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2024/03/22/us/politics/congress-spending-bill-government-shutdown.html. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.


Freking, Kevin, and Mary Clare Jalonick. "Senate Passes $1.2 Trillion Funding Package in Early Morning Vote, Ending Threat of Partial Shutdown." AP News, 23 Mar. 2024, apnews.com/article/congress-shutdown-budget-speaker-johnson-85dc1e93f6c49c154c02a166d0e8e784. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.


Scholtes, Jennifer, et al. "Biden Signs $1.2T Funding Package after Partial Shutdown Thwarted." Politico, 22 Mar. 2024, www.politico.com/news/2024/03/22/senate-tees-up-final-passage-vote-for-1-2t-funding-package-00148695. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

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