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Congress Releases Six Funding Bills Before Friday Closing Deadline

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Congressional advocates on Sunday released a half-dozen bills that, if passed this week, would continue funding for six agencies – about 40 percent of the government – for the rest of the fiscal year after months of unrest and blockades led by conservative Republicans seeking to slash government spending. federal spending.

The package amounts to $704 billion, a better-late-than-never deal reached by congressional leaders after months of delays, negotiations and stopgap measures. This has brought the government to the brink of shutdown several times since the start of the fiscal year on October 1.

The House must first pass the measure and the Senate will follow. Legislative action must be completed by the March 8 funding deadline which was together late last week to avoid a partial government shutdown. The legislation funds several agencies, including ministries of Transportation, Veterans Affairs, Energy, Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

Congress still faces a March 22 deadline to secure funding for the rest of the government.

In a statement Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) touted the package and called for quick action in the House, promising to bring it to the Senate floor as soon as it passes by the lower house to avoid a partial shutdown.

A member of the House Republican leadership, who spoke on condition of anonymity to comment freely on the funding plan, said lawmakers are “still in the middle of significant negotiations on the second plan.”

The total of the six bills is $40 billion less than what was allocated to the same departments in the last fiscal year, Republicans noted. They presented the funding package as a victory, arguing that it is not a sprawling omnibus project but rather a “robust” six-bill program that was developed over time with ” increased member engagement.

“We were saying, ‘No omnibus,'” the Republican said, using the term used for a massive bill to fund the entire government. “The Senate wasn’t going to get away with doing nothing and then just, you know, post their bills online and negotiate from there.” Instead, Congress is considering using two programs to pass funding for the entire government.

House Republicans touted provisions in the bill that would cut spending on the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives.

The package increases funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration, securing additional funds for efforts to combat the fentanyl trade. Additionally, the program fully funds veterans’ health care and benefits.

Democratic leaders welcomed the six measures on Sunday.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement Sunday that she was “pleased” to see Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate working to produce bipartisan measures that will keep government open.

“I am grateful that each of these bills rejects many of the cuts and extreme policies proposed by House Republicans and protects the great progress we have made over the past two years to reverse underinvestment in domestic programs that Americans depend on,” DeLauro said. “I call for rapid passage of this package and look forward to releasing the remaining funding bills for 2024.”

Appropriations officials from both parties also emphasized the bipartisan nature of the bills. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a statement Sunday that the package “was a negotiation” and that “Democrats worked under very tight budget constraints that I have never agreed with, but For months, I’ve made it clear that we can, in fact, fund our government if we work together in a reasonable, bipartisan way.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that committee members “from both chambers worked very hard to reach agreements on the text of the bill unveiled today.”

“I look forward to working with Chairman Murray and our colleagues to bring this bill to the Senate for a vote without further delay,” she said.

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Daniel Gilbert contributed to this report.

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