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$1.2T bipartisan spending deal signed into law: Five things to know

President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion spending package into law Saturday afternoon.

“The bipartisan funding bill I just signed keeps the government open, invests in the American people, and strengthens our economy and national security,” Biden wrote after signing the bill. “This agreement represents a compromise, which means neither side got everything it wanted.”

The Senate, in an early morning vote Saturday, advanced the bipartisan legislation, two hours after the deadline, sending it to the president’s desk.

The upper chamber voted 74-24 to advance the deal, which provides funding for the remaining agencies along with other legislative priorities. The move capped off a monthslong spending fight and averted a partial government shutdown.

The House passed the bill in a bipartisan, 286-134 vote earlier on Friday.

Here are five things to know about what’s included:

Remaining agencies funded through Sept. 30

The “minibus” includes funding for the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Labor, Trade, Labor, State, Education, Health and Human Services and other legislative priorities, through the end of the 2024 fiscal year.

Passage of the bill comes after months of negotiation hurdles centered around disagreements on how to handle the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and other border security priorities, as well as spending cuts proposed by House Republicans and questions around foreign aid.

Hard-line conservatives in the House were unhappy with the bipartisan spending package — especially after Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) seemingly ignored the 72-hour rule — and it largely passed because of Democrats’ support.

The Senate had no time to propose changes to the House-passed bill.

“It’s been a very long and difficult day, but we have just reached an agreement to complete the job of funding the government,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after the upper chamber advanced the bill early Saturday, per The Associated Press. “It is good for the country that we have reached this bipartisan deal. It wasn’t easy, but tonight our persistence has been worth it.”

The bill’s advancement puts a bookend on an appropriations process in the lower chamber that dragged on for months with four short-term extensions, led to the historic ousting of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the leadership role, and incited bitter battles between hard-line conservatives and party leadership.

Funds boosted for border security, enforcement

Republicans in both chambers leaned heavily on funding to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing the Biden administration’s current policies don’t do enough to combat the surge of migrants at the border.

Senate Republicans pushed for the bill to include measures such as the Laken Riley Act — which would require the detention of undocumented immigrants who are charged with theft-related crimes. In the end, none of the amendments passed, somewhat due to time constraints.

Despite some pushback, Republicans did secure investments for the border that will allow for a greater focus on enforcement, including more funding for Border Patrol agents and detention beds, plus boosts for border security technology.

The package could increase detention capacity from 34,000 to 42,000 beds and provide funds for up to 22,000 Border Patrol agents, Johnson said in a statement after the bill’s text was unveiled. It would also cut funding to nongovernmental organizations that “incentivize illegal immigration,” per the Speaker.

Republicans’ distrust toward the Biden administration’s handling of the border came to a head earlier this year, when the House voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Foreign aid, nondefense spending see modest cuts

The bills did not make the drastic cuts House Republicans have sought in the past. But, more than 70 percent of the funds approved in the deal would be allocated to the Department of Defense.

Under the legislation, some programs will see modest cuts. These include the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Republicans have also touted a concession from Democrats, which will block funds from being given to the United Nations agency providing relief for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) amid the Israel-Hamas war. Progressives in both chambers, however, were unhappy with the move.

Democrats were grateful for the lack of steep cuts, as well as a string of so-called “poison pill” riders that did not make the final version, including measures targeting abortion access and diversity initiatives. 

Some hard-line conservatives accused Johnson of giving in to Democrats’ demands.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) filed a motion to vacate against the Speaker Friday after the House advanced the bill, but she did not provide a timeline for when or if she would force a vote — prompting backlash from many within her own party.

Democrats tout improvements in education, health

Funding boosts for early childhood education and health care programs were among Democratic priorities.

The party secured funds for programs such as Head Start, Child Care and Development Fund block grants and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The package also increases funding for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Health Resources and Services Administration. 

America’s global AIDS relief program — the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) — was also authorized for another year in the spending deal. If passed, PEPFAR will operate through March 25, 2025, without the anti-abortion riders to the program that GOP lawmakers called for.

It’s the first time the program has not been given a five-year extension. 

Small wins for GOP on embassy flags, gas stoves

Republicans also secured a win with a provision that would effectively ban unofficial flags from being flown at U.S. embassies.

While it doesn’t specifically mention LGBTQ flags, the language mimics other efforts that have led to bans on Pride flags flying over government buildings.

Another rider that made it into the final version would also block bans on gas stoves, another win for the GOP. The issue has been at the center of debate in Washington after a Consumer Product Safety Commission member indicated last year that the panel was considering regulations or a ban on them.

Source: The Hill

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