Congress Strikes Funding Deal Ahead of March 8 Deadline, Avoiding Government Shutdown - Conservative Nation
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Congress Strikes Funding Deal Ahead of March 8 Deadline, Avoiding Government Shutdown



On Sunday, lawmakers rolled out a bill to fund part of the federal government for fiscal year 2024, in hopes of averting a partial government shutdown on March 8. 

If passed, Congress will take a step toward ending a battle that’s been a consistent sticking point throughout the Biden administration and has led to significant division in the Republican-led House of Representatives. 

The 1,050-page legislation is a package of six bills dealing with departments and agencies whose funding expires on Friday, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Departments of Justice and Commerce, Energy and Water Development, the Department of the Interior, and Transportation and housing.

Both House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) claimed victory for their party after the deal was announced.

Johnson’s office touted modest cuts to key agencies that have been criticized by conservatives, including a 10% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a 6% cut to the FBI and a 7% cut to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

Republican leaders say that the legislation would prevent the Department of Justice from going after parents who speak out at school board meetings.

The bill also separates the 12 total appropriations bills into at least two separate packages, a big win for Johnson, who has pledged to avoid a massive “omnibus” spending bill that nearly all Republicans have opposed. The new legislation marks the first time since 2018 that Congress did not pass an all-in-one bill.

Johnson also touted the legislation’s additional help for U.S. military veterans, which Schumer did in his own statement.

“This legislation forbids the Department of Justice from targeting parents exercising their right to free speech before school boards, while it blocks the Biden Administration from stripping Second Amendment rights from veterans,” Johnson said in a statement. “It imposes deep cuts to the EPA, ATF, and FBI, which under the Biden Administration have threatened our freedoms and our economy, while it fully funds veterans’ health care.”

Meanwhile, Schumer said in a statement that the bill “fully funds” a federal food program for women, infants and children (WIC) and includes investments into infrastructure. 

He added that the bill “maintains the aggressive investments Democrats secured for American families, American workers, and America’s national defense.”

“Among the good things Democrats helped secure in this package I am particularly proud that it fully funds the vital WIC program, makes critical investments in our infrastructure, and strengthens programs that benefit services for our veterans,” he said.

While the legislation is a step in the right direction, there remain several hurdles to overcome, as the government now has until March 22 to fund the remaining portions of the government. That group of bills, which includes military spending and homeland security, is expected to be far more difficult given the vast policy disagreements between Republicans and Democrats there.

These hurdles are expected to be exacerbated by a small group of hardline Republicans who have leveraged their conference’s razor-thin majority in a bid to force severe spending cuts and passage of conservative policies, even as Democrats controlling the Senate and White House have rejected virtually all of their major demands.

This group was responsible for the ouster of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year, after he worked with Schumer to avoid a government shutdown in late 2022.

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