House Passes Earmark-Laden, $1.2 Trillion Consolidated Spending Bill Hours Before Shutdown Deadline

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a $1.2 trillion consolidated spending bill including millions of dollars in earmarks to fund the remainder of the U.S. government for the 2024 fiscal year.

The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 was released by the House at 2:48 a.m. EDT on Thursday, less than 48 hours before Friday’s deadline to pass a bill to fund the government for the fiscal year and is 1,012 pages long. It will allocate $1.2 trillion of public money to fund over 70% of the federal government until Sept. 30, 2024 — including the departments of Defense, State, the Treasury, Homeland Security, Labor, Education and Health and Human Services as well as the White House, federal judiciary, congressional offices and all independent agencies of the government — and passed by the House by a vote of 286 yeas to 134 nays, meeting the two-thirds majority requirement to suspend the rules and pass expeditiously.

“In recent years, domestic spending has skyrocketed, adding trillions to our national debt. For the 118th Congress, the House Republican Conference made a promise to change the trajectory of federal spending and put an end to budgetary waste, without shortchanging investments in national security,” wrote the House Appropriations Committee in a summary accompanying the bill’s release. “The bills represent the first overall cut to non-defense, non-[Veterans Affairs] spending in almost a decade. Fundamentally, the bills achieve what House Republicans set out to do by strategically increasing defense spending, rescinding wasteful Democrat spending, and making targeted cuts to overfunded non-defense programs.”

The bill increases funding for the Department of Defense by $27 billion and authorizes money to be spent on new programs, a change from existing funding arrangements under a continuing resolution since Sept. 30, 2023, when the U.S. military could not begin new initiatives due to the lack of congressional authorization. It would also authorize funding to recruit 22,000 agents for the U.S. Border Patrol and increase the detention capacity of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by 7,500 beds, allowing for them to detain more unlawfully present foreign nationals pending removal from the country.

Funding for the Department of State, meanwhile, has been cut by 6% from fiscal year 2023, and the bill imposes several restrictions on funding from being received by the People’s Republic of China and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose employees in Gaza have been accused of participating in terrorist attacks against Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. It also requires that any discretionary aid to Gaza be conditioned on third-party monitoring and coordination with Israel.

Regarding independent agencies, the bill prohibits the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from using funds to seek to restrict propane gas-powered cooking stoves, a proposal that was widely panned by conservatives in 2023. It also bans the District of Columbia, which is partially funded by the bill, from using federal money to advocate for its statehood or greater representation in Congress.

Upon its release, the bill was heavily criticized by conservatives for its size, the timing of its release and for the inclusion of hundreds of targeted spending provisions, known more commonly as “earmarks,” that spend federal money on a particular project at the request of members of Congress.

 

“Republicans should feel the pain for voting for this bill,” said Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, the policy chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, on Thursday. “[People] should call their members of Congress right now. They should tell them that, under no circumstances, should you vote for this bill. They should melt down the phone lines, and the emails and the texts and all of that…it’s being put up with less than 24 hours to read it. It’s a travesty.”

Among the Republican Conference, 112 members voted against the bill, constituting over half the conference, and were joined by 22 House Democrats. The bill was endorsed by the leadership of both party caucuses and received bipartisan support — of 101 Republicans and 185 Democrats — from a significant proportion of each grouping.

“For the rest of us who didn’t see it until 2:30 a.m. [EST] this morning, and for the 330 million Americans out there who will have to pay for this stuff, that’s not adequate notice, that’s not a carefully negotiated agreement. That is collusion among the few affecting the many adversely. I find this very, very disturbing,” said Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah on the Senate floor on Thursday. “It begs the question: what are they hiding?”

The bill’s passage will mark the end of the contentious 2024 appropriations process, which has remained unfinished since September 2023. The process involved the passage of four continuing resolutions and the removal of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from office, prompting a three-week impasse as House Republicans scrambled to choose a successor.

In response to the bill’s passage, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia filed a motion to vacate against House Speaker Mike Johnson, seeking to remove him from office in the same manner as McCarthy. Should the motion pass, it would mark only the second time in history that a speaker was removed from office, the first being McCarthy’s removal in October.

The bill must be passed by the Democratic-led Senate and signed by President Joe Biden by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday to avert a partial government shutdown of the aforementioned departments. The remainder of the government remains funded for the fiscal year by a similar consolidated resolution signed into law on March 8th.

The Biden administration has urged passage of the bill by both houses of Congress as soon as possible. “[S]end this critical legislation to the President’s desk for signature without delay and [then] quickly pivot to the bipartisan national security supplemental,” the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a statement.


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