Lawmakers unveil $1.2 trillion government funding package ahead of shutdown deadline

Lawmakers unveiled a $1.2 trillion government funding package on Thursday, setting up a high-stakes sprint to pass the legislation as a shutdown deadline looms at the end of the week.

It’s not yet clear if lawmakers will be able to pass the legislation ahead of Friday’s deadline, raising concerns on Capitol Hill that there could be a short-term lapse in government funding over the weekend.

With the release of the legislative text that’s more than 1,000 pages, the House and Senate are now facing a major time crunch to get the legislation across the finish line. A number of critical government operations need to be funded by the end of the day on Friday, March 22, including the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, State and the legislative branch.

Shortly after the bill was released, Speaker Mike Johnson released a statement and said the legislation is “a serious commitment to strengthening our national defense by moving the Pentagon toward a focus on its core mission while expanding support for our brave men and women who serve in uniform.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the text “comes in the nick of time,” fewer than 48 hours out from the deadline for a partial government shutdown.

“This funding agreement between the White House and Congressional leaders is good news that comes in the nick of time,” he said Thursday. “When passed, it will extinguish any more shutdown threats for the rest of the fiscal year, it will avoid the scythe of budget sequestration and it will keep the government open without cuts or poison pill riders.”

“It’s now the job of the House Republican leadership to move this package ASAP,” Schumer added.

What happens next?

Top lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed the desire to avoid a partial shutdown, but there are challenges ahead.

Before the text was released, Johnson said Wednesday it is his “hope” the House will be able to pass the legislation to avert a lapse in funding by the Friday midnight deadline.

Johnson has so far been non-committal as to whether House GOP leaders would adhere to a rule intended to give members 72 hours to review bill text before a vote.

The Louisiana Republican faces an extremely narrow GOP majority and pushback from his right flank over his handling of the government funding fight.

Top House Republicans expect they’ll have the votes to pass the spending package Friday – but it could be close. They’ll need a two-thirds majority to pass the bill, so Democrats will have to help carry it amid a revolt in some quarters of the House GOP Conference, according to senior GOP sources.

It remains unclear if the GOP can win a majority of their conference – a key threshold they try to achieve on every vote.

In a bad sign for leadership, GOP. Rep. Robert Aderholt, the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations subcommittee chair, announced Thursday that he would not support the spending package on the floor, citing concerns over border and abortion measures.

In the Senate, agreement will be needed from all 100 senators to swiftly pass the legislation – and the objection of any one senator could derail a quick vote and delay the process.

Earlier this week, Schumer warned that it will be a “tight squeeze” to pass the funding package before the deadline.

“As soon as the bill passes the House I will put it on the Senate floor,” Schumer said Wednesday. “It’s no secret that it’s going to be a tight squeeze to get these funding bills passed before the weekend deadline. So I ask all of my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, House and Senate, to be flexible and prepared so we can finish the appropriations process.”

What’s in the bill?

The package provides $19.6 billion for Customs and Border Protection, a $3.2 billion increase above fiscal year 2023, and includes $495 million for additional Border Patrol agents, which the Biden administration has repeatedly called for. It does not add funding for the border wall.

The package also provides almost $90 billion in discretionary funding to the Department of Homeland Security, bolstering funding for additional resources. It funds 41,500 detention beds, which is more than the previous fiscal year and Biden’s request, according to the GOP summary. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement had recently drafted plans to wind down detention space, and as a result, release migrants, to cover their budget shortfall.

The bill also increases Department of Defense funding, providing $824.3 billion, an increase of $26.8 billion above fiscal year 2023.

It also provides an additional 12,000 special immigrant visas for Afghans who helped the US.

The bill struck down poison pills that would have decreased the salaries of members of the administration including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other officials to $1, and blocked funds for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs across the defense and intelligence communities, and banned the flying of the Pride flag.

It also kills an amendment that would have cut funding for Head Start by $750 million, and instead increases funding by $1 billion above 2023 funding levels for Child Care and Head Start.

End of funding fight in sight

The current fiscal year began more than five months ago on October 1, 2023. Lawmakers have faced a series of fiscal cliffs since then as a result of funding deadlines created by short-term extensions.

Earlier this month, finally passed funding for the rest of the fiscal year when it passed a separate six-bill funding package signed into law by President Joe Biden, which included funding for the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Veterans Affairs, Energy, Interior, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, military construction and other federal programs.

Now, Congress is finally on the verge of completing the annual appropriations package as long as it can pass this latest slate of government funding bills.

If a temporary lapse in federal funding were to occur, it would likely have only a limited impact on government operations if funding were to be restored before the end of the weekend.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Haley Talbot and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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