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U.S. Senate in overnight vote sends $1.2 trillion government spending package to Biden


U.S. Senate in overnight vote sends $1.2 trillion government spending package to Biden

Mar 23, 2024 | 8:13 am ET
By Jennifer Shutt
U.S. Senate in overnight vote sends $1.2 trillion government spending package to Biden
A U.S. Senate vote in the wee hours on Saturday, March 23, 2024 wrapped up the government funding process for fiscal year 2024, six months late. (Photo by Jennifer Shutt/States Newsroom)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate took a broadly bipartisan vote early Saturday to approve a $1.2 trillion spending package, sending the measure to President Joe Biden for his signature with no time to spare after missing a midnight deadline. 

The 74-24 vote wraps up the government funding process for fiscal year 2024, which began back on Oct. 1, making lawmakers just about six months behind schedule. Congress passed the other six bills in mid-March after relying on short-term spending measures to bridge the gap. 

Both of Iowa’s U.S. senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, voted for the package.

Senate approval came shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday, creating a minor funding lapse that was not expected to have any real effect. Biden was expected to sign the bill later Saturday.

Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray, a Washington state Democrat, said Friday hours before the vote that the agreement shows “Congress can still work, but only when we come to the negotiating table in good faith and leave politics at the door.”

“This is not the package I would have written all on my own,” Murray said. “But by working together, we were finally able to hammer out an agreement on funding bills that protect and even strengthen critical investments in our families, in our economy and in our national security.”

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member on the spending panel, said the package “supports America’s working families while providing funding to better secure our borders and combat the transnational criminal organizations that are flooding our communities with fentanyl.” 

“As part of the effort to address the crisis at the border — and it is a crisis — this package includes funding for additional detention beds, and more Border Patrol agents and port of entry officers,” Collins said. 

“Those are long-standing Republican priorities; priorities that are shared by many Democrats as well,” Collins added.  

Amendments turned down

The Senate’s vote to approve the 1,012-page spending package followed lawmakers rejecting numerous proposals that would have changed it from GOP lawmakers, including from Utah’s Mike Lee, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Missouri’s Eric Schmitt. Had any been adopted, the huge bill would have had to return to the House for another vote, extending the funding lapse.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation Friday morning following a 286-134 vote. Both chambers are now on a two-week recess from Capitol Hill. 

The package includes funding for significant federal programs including the departments of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Labor, State and Treasury. 

It also included spending for dozens of smaller entities, including Congress, the Executive Office of the President, the judiciary and the Social Security Administration. 

Three of the spending bills include earmarks, commonly called community project funding or congressionally directed spending, by members of Congress. 

The Financial Services and General Government bill’s 17 pages of earmarks can be found here, the Homeland Security bill’s 18 pages are here and the Labor-HHS-Education bill’s 103 pages of funded projects are here

Additional reporting from States Newsroom on these six government funding bills can be found here. Details on the other six spending bills released earlier this month can be found here with coverage of that House vote here and the previous Senate vote here.