Biden Signs $1.2 Trillion Budget Bill Into Law

President Joe Biden has signed a huge government funding bill into law, which combined with an earlier measure brings the price tag to over $1.6 trillion.

President Joe Biden has signed into law the $1.2 trillion package of spending bills, averting a government shutdown.

The White House said that President Biden signed the measure on March 23, providing funding for various federal government departments and agencies through Sept. 30, 2024.
“The bipartisan funding bill I just signed keeps the government open, invests in the American people, and strengthens our economy and national security. This agreement represents a compromise, which means neither side got everything it wanted,” the president said in a statement.
The Senate passed the legislation, called H.R. 2882 or the “Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024,” in a 74–24 vote in the early hours of Saturday, a day after it cleared the House.

It took lawmakers six months into the current budget year to get the legislation to the finish line, with partisan disputes over policy mandates and spending levels leading to impasses requiring several short-term spending bills to keep the government funded.

Some conservatives were left fuming over spending increases in the deal, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) going so far as to file a motion to oust House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) for his role in negotiating the measure, which she called a “betrayal of the American people.”

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Passage of the funding bill came after the government technically went into a partial shutdown, though a short-lived one that lasted barely two hours.

More Details

An earlier package consisting of six full-year government funding bills cleared Congress two weeks ago and was signed into law by President Biden on March 9.

That measure, called H.R. 4366 or the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024,” provided $460 billion in appropriations for a number of major departments of the federal government: Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs.

The latest package that President Biden signed into law on March 23 provides $1.2 trillion to fund the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

When combining the two government funding packages, discretionary spending for the current budget year amounts to roughly $1.66 trillion, which doesn’t include programs like Social Security and Medicare, nor does it cover payments on America’s swelling public debt.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its latest long-term budget outlook, projecting that debt held by the public would reach 166 percent of gross domestic product in 2054. The agency warned that mounting debt would slow economic growth, push up interest payments to foreign holders of U.S. debt, and pose “significant risks to the fiscal and economic outlook.”

Under the $1.2 trillion spending package, the Pentagon would get $825 billion—$27 billion more than in the 2023 fiscal year.

There is $108 billion allocated for U.S. security cooperation with Taiwan and $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which consists of training, equipment, and other means to aid Ukraine.

However, direct funding for Ukraine and Taiwan is not in the spending bill. A supplemental assistance package for both places is bogged down in Congress as Republicans have called for tougher domestic border security measures in exchange for their support.

In his remarks on Saturday, President Biden called on lawmakers to continue working on getting more funding for Kyiv and Taipei.

“I want to be clear: Congress’s work isn’t finished. The House must pass the bipartisan national security supplemental to advance our national security interests,” he said. “And Congress must pass the bipartisan border security agreement—the toughest and fairest reforms in decades—to ensure we have the policies and funding needed to secure the border.”

“It’s time to get this done,” he added.

Amid record levels of illegal immigration that have pushed down President Biden’s approval ratings, the president pushed a border deal that was being negotiated in the Senate but ultimately failed amid GOP opposition.

Republicans rejected the border deal on the premise that its provisions weren’t tough enough, while calling for a reinstatement of Trump-era policies like the Remain in Mexico policy that required asylum-seekers to wait outside of the United States until their claims were processed.

What Else Is in the Package?

The latest spending package also provides $19.6 billion for Customs and Border Protection, which includes funding for 22,000 Border Patrol agents.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will receive $90 billion in discretionary funding under the package. This would fund 41,500 detention beds, higher than President Biden’s budget request, according to a GOP summary.

The Department of Health and Human Services would receive $116.8 billion, a $3.9 billion decrease from the 2023 fiscal year, though the National Institutes of Health would get $48.6 billion this year, $300 million more than last year.

The Education Department would get $79.1 billion, a $500 million decrease from the 2023 fiscal year.

The State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development would get $11.8 billion, a $5.6 billion decrease from the 2023 fiscal year.

An additional 12,000 special immigrant visas for Afghans who helped the United States will also be provided under the package.

The budget also partially defunds efforts to expand the IRS workforce by 85,000 agents, which Republicans argue are targeted at everyday Americans.

The bill also includes $200 million for the new FBI headquarters, which will be built just outside Washington in Greenbelt, Maryland—a contentious issue for Republicans.

Joseph Lord, Jackson Richman, Samantha Flom, and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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