Lawmakers unveil second funding package as end to government spending fight comes into focus


Washington — Leaders in Congress unveiled a widely anticipated government funding package early on Thursday, paving the way for lawmakers to bring an end to a months-long funding saga and ward off a partial government shutdown ahead of a Friday night deadline.

The six-bill package includes money for the departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, Labor and Health and Human Services, as well as funds for foreign operations, financial services and the legislative branch. If approved, the package would take the threat of a government shutdown off the table until the beginning of the next fiscal year on Oct. 1.

“This FY24 appropriations 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,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement. “Importantly, it halts funding for the United Nations agency which employed terrorists who participated in the October 7 attacks against Israel.”

Earlier Wednesday, multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to CBS News that the package would include a ban on all direct U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the main humanitarian agency operating in Gaza.

This comes after the Biden administration in January said it was temporarily pausing new funding to UNRWA pending a U.N. investigation into Israel’s claims that 12 agency employees participated in the deadly Oct. 7 terror attack in Israel that killed at least 1,200 people.

Johnson said the proposed package would increase U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention capacity from 34,000 to 42,000 beds, and provides funding for about 22,000 Border Patrol agents. 

“In addition, the bipartisan agreement reached to fund the Department of Homeland Security moves the Department’s operations toward enforcing our border and immigration laws,” Johnson’s statement read. “It significantly cuts funding to NGOs that incentivize illegal immigration and increases detention capacity and the number of Border Patrol agents to match levels in the House-passed appropriations bill and the Secure the Border Act.”

Negotiators struggled to reach a deal on the measure earlier in the week, blowing past a goal to reach an agreement over the weekend as the DHS funding became a sticking point. But leaders announced on Tuesday morning that they had reached consensus.

The annual spending bills appeared especially cumbersome for lawmakers this year, and the disagreements took on new significance amid an ongoing dispute about how to address border security in Congress. 

There is still work to do. The release of the bill’s text kicks off a tight timeline to approve the legislation and stave off a partial government shutdown by 12 a.m. Saturday. House lawmakers are ordinarily given 72 hours to review legislation before a vote is held. But that timeline is expected to be collapsed with the shutdown deadline looming, which could anger some House conservatives already frustrated by the spending agreement. 

The House is expected to pass the legislation under suspension of the rules, requiring the support of two-thirds of the chamber. And despite pushback from some House conservatives over the package, Democrats are expected to join the bulk of House Republicans to propel the legislation to passage before it heads to the Senate. 

In the Senate, unanimity will be required to move the legislation along quickly, since one senator has the power to slow-walk the path to passage. Should any sticking points arise, an additional short-term measure to keep the government funded may be necessary — or funding could lapse for some government agencies. 

“If there’s bipartisan cooperation, we can get this package passed by the deadline,” Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democratic appropriator in the Senate said Wednesday. “We need to turn the page on fiscal year ’24, take the government off of autopilot, and focus on passing these bills by Friday at midnight.”

Lawmakers are set to leave Washington for a two-week recess beginning next week. Any hiccup would likely require lawmakers to work over the weekend.

Some senators expressed frustration over the time crunch. Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, advocated for a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for a few weeks while allowing time for debate.

“This is just common sense,” Lee said. “Give the people’s elected lawmakers the chance to be involved in the lawmaking process, because we’re certainly not doing that now.”

Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Wyoming Republican, said she’d likely vote against the package, “just because I don’t have time to even look at what’s in it.”

With the text and expected votes on the package, Congress is nearing a resolution to the government funding dilemma that has been prolonged for months. The package is the second of two — lawmakers approved funding that covers a smaller portion of the government earlier this month. 

“We had to get the appropriations process done. I’m delighted to tell you that we’re coming to the end of that,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “I think the final product is something that we were able to achieve a lot of key provisions in and wins and a move in the direction that we want even with our tiny, historically small majority.”

Johnson said that after the appropriations process is fully resolved, the attention will turn to supplemental funding in the House. The White House for months has been seeking additional funding for U.S. allies, like Ukraine and Israel, and the Senate approved the funding package earlier this year. But Johnson has opposed bringing the measure to the House floor for a vote. 

The speaker said the conference is exploring “a number of avenues” to address the supplemental issues.

Margaret Brennan contributed to this report



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