Lawmakers unveil final spending package as Congress races to avoid shutdown – Washington Examiner

Lawmakers unveiled the legislative text for its final appropriations package overnight Thursday, starting the clock for Congress to push the 1012-page bill through both chambers and be signed by President Joe Biden — all before midnight on Friday. 

Shortly before 3 a.m. Eastern, appropriators announced the $1 trillion minibus package that combines funding for the remaining spending bills for the 2023 fiscal year, finishing a nearly yearlong process to fund the government that has been extended four times in order to finish negotiations. The legislation comes just one day ahead of the shutdown deadline, sending lawmakers into an all-out sprint to get the legislation passed before the government enters a partial shutdown. 

 “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, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said in a statement. “Overall, during the FY24 appropriations process, 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.”

The spending package comes after negotiations between the White House and Congress nearly broke down over the weekend due to disagreements on border security policies. However, lawmakers were able to come to an agreement late Monday evening, with both sides framing the final draft as a win for their party. 

The final spending package combines six appropriations bills and covers roughly 70% of the federal government. That funding covers the Pentagon, State Department, Labor Department, Health and Human Services Department, Department of Homeland Security, and foreign operations.

“We defeated outlandish cuts that would have been a gut punch for American families and our economy—and we fought off scores of extreme policies that would have restricted Americans’ fundamental freedoms, hurt consumers while giving giant corporations an unfair advantage, and turned back the clock on historic climate action,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Some of the key provisions negotiated in the appropriations bill for the DHS include a measure to increase the number of beds for immigrants detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the current 34,000 to 42,000. 

The DHS bill would provide funding for 22,000 border agents, a 25% spending increase for border technology, and a 20% cut in federal funding to nongovernmental organizations that provide transportation and food vouchers to immigrants who are released into the country on asylum claims. The bill would also allocate $1.2 billion to counter the flow fentanyl and other illicit counternarcotics.

“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 said. “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 (H.R. 2). While these changes are welcome, only a significant reversal in policy by the President to enforce the law can ultimately secure our border.” 

The spending bill would also include changes to appropriations for the Defense Department, including a 5.2% troop pay increase as well as cuts to the Pentagon’s climate programs and its diversity, equity, and inclusion policies.

Other spending cuts include $20.2 billion in rescissions from the Internal Revenue Service as well as another $6 billion from unused COVID-19 funds.

Other measures in the bill that are being praised as conservative wins include a 6% cut to foreign aid and zero funding to the UNRWA, the main United Nations agency for Palestinians, until next year. It would also prevent the banning of gas stoves and maintain the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion — a major policy win for Republicans. 

Republicans were also able to secure a provision that would only allow the U.S. flag to be flown over U.S. diplomatic facilities. As a result, flags such as the pride and confederate flags, would be barred from U.S. embassies. 

Despite those measures, Democrats are also praising some of the policy provisions included in the spending package. Among the top wins is the exclusion of Republicans’ signature border bill, H.R. 2, which many hardliners have demanded be included in the appropriations legislation. The package would also include 12,000 new Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan nationals who assisted with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, among other provisions. 

Democrats also said the legislation does not include any “poison pill” policy riders on abortion, LGBTQ issues, or diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“So many vital programs that the federal government undertakes including diversity and inclusion. Those are some of the key wins and priorities, as well as investments in childcare and investments in our national defense,” Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-CA) said on Wednesday. “The fact that Republicans went from proposing cuts of 22% last year to where we are today speaks volumes to Leader Jeffries and Rosa DeLauro to work to find compromise.” 

It’s not yet clear when the House will vote on the legislation. Funding is set to run out for the six appropriations bills just after midnight on Friday, giving lawmakers a short timeframe to get the package through both the House and Senate. 

Under House rules, legislative text must be available for at least 72 hours before lawmakers can vote on the bill. But if that rule is adhered to, the House wouldn’t be able to vote on the package until Saturday at the earliest — after the deadline had already passed. 


Leadership could skirt those rules, as former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) did last September. However, that decision helped lead to his eventual ouster. It was not immediately clear if Johnson would break the 72-hour rule, but emphasized they must “expedite it as quickly as possible.”