Spending package approved

U.S. House passes $468 billion spending package that would stave off shutdown.



March 7, 2024 - 2:09 PM

A 1,050-page package of spending bills approved by the U.S. House on Wednesday now goes to the Senate, where lawmakers are expected to vote on it before the end of the week. President Joe Biden is then expected to sign it into law. Photo by Jennifer Shutt/States Newsroom/Kansas Reflector

WASHINGTON — U.S. House lawmakers cast a broadly bipartisan vote Wednesday to approve a six-bill government funding package, marking one of the few consequential votes on major legislation that chamber has taken since Republicans took the majority more than a year ago.

The $468 billion package includes half of the annual spending bills for the fiscal year that began back on Oct. 1, with lawmakers hoping to wrap up agreement on the other six before a March 22 deadline so as to avert a partial shutdown.

The 1,050-page package, which was approved 339-85, now goes to the Senate, where lawmakers are expected to vote on it before the end of the week. President Joe Biden is then expected to sign it into law.

House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger, a Texas Republican, encouraged lawmakers to support the measure, saying it “increased defense funding and made targeted cuts” to other programs.

“With the odds stacked against us, House Republicans made progress in how we fund the government,” Granger said. “We drafted the most conservative bills in history.”

House Appropriations Committee ranking member Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, said she was “pleased” that Democrats and Republicans in both chambers of Congress were able to negotiate a final agreement on the six bills.

“This legislation does not have everything either side may have wanted, but I am pleased that many of the extreme cuts and policies proposed by House Republicans were excluded,” DeLauro said.

Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy spoke against the package, saying it spends too much money and doesn’t include enough changes to policy that conservatives pressed for in the House’s original spending bills.

“All of this is a shell game,” Roy said.

Money for agencies, earmarks

The spending package includes funding for the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Transportation and Veterans Affairs.

It also provides funding for numerous agencies, like the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA, National Science Foundation and military construction projects.

The package includes $12.655 billion for more than 6,600 projects that members requested through the earmarking process that’s often called community project funding or congressionally directed spending, according to two people familiar with the totals.

The six bills include discretionary spending, which Congress approves annually and can fluctuate, as well as some mandatory spending, which is required by laws that Congress has approved.

Discretionary accounts, which make up about one-third of federal spending each year, are subject to the spending caps agreement that House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, and Biden agreed to in January.