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Biden signs spending package that averts a government shutdown

The Senate voted to approve six of the 12 regular spending bills.
Catie Dull
The Senate voted to approve six of the 12 regular spending bills.

Updated March 9, 2024 at 12:12 PM ET

The Senate voted 75 to 22 on Friday to approve a package of six spending bills that will fund a portion of the federal government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Lawmakers are currently working on the details of the final six regular spending bills which must be approved by March 22.

President Biden signed the bills on Saturday, marking the first step in achieving a major goal for this Congress: overcoming entrenched dysfunction to complete the fundamental of funding the government.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hailed the step as progress.

"To folks who worry that divided government means nothing ever gets done, this bipartisan package says otherwise," Schumer said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. "It helps parents and veterans and firefighters and farmers and school cafeterias and more."

But that vote still was not without threats and drama.

The bill's opponents — including Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah — flirted with forcing an hours-long shutdown. The senators were demanding the chance to vote on amendments that have virtually no hope of passing. The core legislation is the result of a lengthy bipartisan negotiation with all four leaders in Congress. It passed the House earlier in the week with a large bipartisan majority.

Paul, Lee and the other detractors did not have enough votes to pass the amendments or block the bill — but they did have the power to delay proceedings long enough to allow a brief funding lapse.

Paul and his allies eventually relented — narrowly avoiding a repeat of a brief 2018 shutdown that came under similar circumstances.

The package funds six government areas including: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

The second package, which must be completed by the end of the month, includes: Defense, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor-HHS, Legislative Branch, and State and Foreign Operations.

Those bills are typically much more controversial and are at greater risk of failure than the bills that passed this week.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eric McDaniel
Eric McDaniel is a congressional reporter for NPR's Washington Desk.