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Congress receives $1.2 trillion spending bill days before shutdown

Congressional leaders unveiled new federal funding legislation Thursday that would increase military salaries, eliminate U.S. funding for the U.N. humanitarian agency in Gaza and boost security spending at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill to allocate $1.2 trillion in spending, the result of an agreement between President Biden, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E . Schumer (DN.Y.), would finance about three-quarters of the expenses. the federal government for the next six months, until the end of the fiscal year. But lawmakers have little time to approve it before the government shutdown deadline this weekend.

Congress passedand Biden this month signed another set of six funding bills worth $459 billion for about the other quarter of federal funding.

Without new funding legislation, agencies will close their doors after midnight on Saturday. In the House, a vote could take place as early as Friday morning, pushing the more deliberate Senate to face a countdown.

The legislation comes late in the Congressional budget calendar, with fiscal year 2024 half over. But Congress has failed to pass all of its appropriations bills on time since 1997, according to the Pew Research Centeroften relying instead on stopgap funding bills called continuing resolutions, or CRs.

Even if Congress doesn’t finish its work before Saturday’s shutdown deadline, the effects of a shutdown could be minimal as long as lawmakers act before Monday: Many federal workers at unfunded agencies would be furloughed anyway for the weekend. But if a closure lasts longer, more than half of IRS employees would be furloughed at the height of tax filing season.

Border Patrol Agents and approximately 1.3 million active duty military personnel would remain at work without pay. So would Transportation Security Administration screeners, many of whom called in sick in protest after a previous shutdown dragged on for weeks, causing travel delays across the board. national.

“No one should want a stop. No one should cause a shutdown. Let’s come together and get this done,” Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the lead Democratic negotiator, said Wednesday. “Please excuse the former preschool teacher in me, but here’s the lesson I hope everyone learned when we passed these last six bills: when we listen to each other and As we listen to the American people instead of the loudest far-right voices, we can work together and pass meaningful bills that help people at home.

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security has emerged as the biggest obstacle to the appropriations package, morphing into a broader fight between the White House and Johnson over operations to secure the southern border and immigration policy in its together.

The legislation unveiled Thursday would increase funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is facing a budget shortfall, to support about 42,000 detention center beds, and fund 22,000 Border Patrol agents.

It would also cut U.S. contributions by 20 percent to nongovernmental organizations that provide services to newcomers to the country. Lawmakers who want to restrict immigration argue that nonprofit groups encourage illegal crossings.

Both parties claimed legislative victories. Military personnel would receive a 5.2 percent pay increase and significant increases in housing and food subsidies.

The Republicans, still bruised by the lack of political success on previous funding bills, obtained a 12-month mandate. ban on federal funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), several people familiar with the matter confirmed the agreement. Israel has accused some agency employees of involvement in the October 7 attacks that killed some 1,200 Israelis and took hundreds more hostage to the Gaza strip by the activist group Hamas. A US intelligence assessment has would have verified some of Israel’s claims regarding UNRWA.

The bill also includes a 6 percent cut to foreign aid programs, which already represent a tiny share of federal spending, and a largely symbolic reduction. Republican victory which prohibits unofficial American flags from flying atop American embassies. Republican lawmakers had hoped to use the provision, a slightly more restrictive version of which was previously in effect, to prevent Biden appointees from displaying Pride flags on official grounds at U.S. diplomatic outposts.

Democrats have eliminated other culture war-style policy provisions to limit access to abortion and restrict the rights of LGBTQ Americans.

Some Democratic priorities also saw significant funding increases, including an additional $1 billion for the Head Start early education program and $1 billion for climate resilience funding at the Department of Defense. The legislation also provides an additional 12,000 special immigration visas for Afghans who have aided the U.S. military and are trying to escape the Taliban government.

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