House to vote on second funding package as lawmakers race to avoid shutdown

Washington — The House is set to vote on a massive spending package on Friday to fully fund the government through September as the clock runs out to avert a partial government shutdown. 

The $1.2 trillion package, which was unveiled less than 48 hours before the shutdown deadline, wraps six spending bills into one to fund about three-quarters of the government until the end of the fiscal year. Another package funding the rest of the government cleared Congress two weeks ago. 

Passage in the House would move Congress one step closer to ending a fight over spending that has persisted six months into the fiscal year, one that has forced lawmakers to repeatedly rely on short-term funding extensions to keep the government operating since October. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, waived a self-imposed 72-hour rule that gives lawmakers time to read legislation before a vote in order to get it across the finish line and send it to the Senate, giving the upper chamber just hours before the clock strikes midnight. 

Senate rules that allow a single lawmaker to object to expediting a bill’s passage could push a vote into Saturday. Republicans are also likely to demand votes on amendments in exchange for speeding up the process, as they did with the last funding bill. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, predicted the upper chamber could hold amendment votes as soon as Friday afternoon. 

A brief lapse in funding over the weekend may not cause disruptions. When President Biden signed the first funding package hours after a similar shutdown deadline earlier this month, the Office of Management and Budget said agencies would not shut down and could continue their normal operations, since it was clear that a resolution was imminent.

After delays caused by disputes over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released the second package in the early morning hours of Thursday. 

Republicans and Democrats both claimed victories in the package that funds the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, Labor and Health and Human Services, as well as foreign operations, financial services and the legislative branch. 

Democrats touted funding for child care and education programs, medical research, mental health care and an extension of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, an initiative known as PEPFAR that is credited with saving 25 million lives worldwide. 

“We had to work within difficult fiscal constraints — but this bipartisan compromise will keep our country moving forward,” Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democratic appropriator in the Senate, said in a statement. 

Republicans highlighted funding for Border Patrol agents and more detention beds, as well as a ban on funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the main humanitarian agency operating in Gaza, through March 2025.

The bill also includes several conservative policy wins. It prevents the federal government from banning gas stoves, puts restrictions on which flags can be flown over U.S. diplomatic facilities and maintains a provision banning federal funds from covering abortion services.

“House Republicans have achieved significant conservative policy wins, rejected extreme Democrat proposals, and imposed substantial cuts to wasteful agencies and programs while strengthening border security and national defense,” Johnson said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, told reporters on Thursday that an “overwhelming majority” of conservative policy riders did not make it into the bill. 

Alan He contributed reporting.

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