March 7, 2024


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House passes $460 billion government funding bill blasted by GOP hardliners

The House of Representatives has passed a $460 billion bill to fund part of the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2024.

As expected, more Democrats voted for the bill than Republicans, and it passed 339-85. The issue of how to fund the government has splintered the House GOP’s razor-thin majority for much of this congressional term, with Republican hardliners pressuring their conference to drift toward significant spending cuts and conservative policy riders that the Democrats who control the White House and Senate have called nonstarters.

The 1,050-page bipartisan legislation is a package of six bills dealing with departments and agencies whose funding expires on Friday — Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the Justice and Commerce Departments; Energy and Water Development; the Department of Interior; and Transportation and Housing.

Funding tied to Congress’ six remaining bills, which include the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon, expires on March 22.

Fox News Digital first reported last month that House GOP leaders were planning to jettison an earlier promise to pass 12 individual spending bills, something conservatives rallied around. Sources who spoke with Fox News Digital at the time blamed the Senate’s inaction on the seven individual bills passed by the House, which included elements Democrats dismissed as ‘poison pills.’

Confronted with the broken promise during his weekly press conference on Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson countered that change was incremental in Washington and pointed out that splitting the 12 bills into at least two packages ended the Democrat-backed tradition of folding them all into a massive ‘omnibus’ spending bill, which has been the case since 2018.

‘We committed to do 12 separate appropriations bills… the reason that it’s been so difficult to do it is because Washington has no muscle memory on how to do that,’ Johnson said.

‘It takes a long time to turn an aircraft carrier, and we’re doing that gradually. We’re forcing reforms, trying to force Congress back into the mode, the statutory mode, the lawful mode, and the way in which it’s supposed to work with regard to government funding.’

But GOP hardliners are still unhappy with the bill, arguing Johnson did not fight hard enough for conservative policy reforms and steeper spending cuts.

The House Freedom Caucus insisted, without elaborating, that it was still an ‘omnibus’ spending bill.

‘Despite giving Democrats higher spending levels, the omnibus text released so far punts on nearly every single Republican policy priority. Worst of all, the omnibus surrenders Republicans’ leverage to force radical Democrats to the table to truly secure the southern border and end the purposeful, dangerous mass release of illegal aliens into the United States,’ the group said.

Democrats, meanwhile, were jubilant that the bill did not include right-wing measures on abortion access, transgender care and critical race theory, among others.

‘I am very proud to say we successfully defeated the vast majority of the extreme cuts and hundreds of harmful policy riders proposed by House Republicans,’ Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said before the final vote.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass, before hitting President Biden’s desk.

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