Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
March 21, 2024

Lawmakers unveiled a $1.2 trillion government funding package (TEXT, SUMMARY) this morning, setting up a high-stakes sprint to pass the legislation as a shutdown deadline looms at the end of the week.  It’s not yet clear if the House and Senate will be able to pass the legislation ahead of Friday’s deadline, raising concerns on Capitol Hill that there could be a short-term lapse in government funding over the weekend.  A number of critical government operations need to be funded by the end of the day on Friday including the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, State and the legislative branch. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) has said he may try to hold a vote in the House Friday morning, but would need to work around a rule intended to give members 72 hours to review bill text before a vote.  Johnson faces an extremely narrow GOP majority and pushback from his right flank over his handling of the government funding fight, and he’ll need significant Democratic support to pass the legislation out of his chamber.  The House is expected to pass the legislation under suspension of the rules, requiring the support of two-thirds of the chamber. And despite pushback from some House conservatives over the package, Democrats are expected to join the bulk of House Republicans to propel the legislation to passage before it heads to the Senate.   In the Senate, unanimity will be required to move the legislation along quickly, since one senator has the power to slow-walk the path to passage.  Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) are urging colleagues to vote against the bill and its numerous expected earmarks, which are technically banned under the Senate GOP conference rules.

Among other items, the package provides $19.6 billion for Customs and Border Protection, a $3.2 billion increase above fiscal year 2023, and includes $495 million for additional Border Patrol agents, which the Biden administration has repeatedly called for. It does not add funding for the border wall.  The package also provides almost $90 billion in discretionary funding to the Department of Homeland Security, bolstering funding for additional resources. It funds 41,500 detention beds, which is more than the previous fiscal year and Biden’s request, according to the GOP summary. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement had recently drafted plans to wind down detention space, and as a result, release migrants, to cover their budget shortfall. The bill also increases Department of Defense funding, providing $824.3 billion, an increase of $26.8 billion above fiscal year 2023.

As the Senate waits on House action on the government funding bill, the Senate is expected to consider the nomination of Jose Javier Rodriguez to be an Assistant Secretary of Labor and S.J.Res.62, providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service relating to “Importation of Fresh Beef From Paraguay.”

The House is expected to take up H. Con. Res. 86 – Expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy , H. Res. 987 – Denouncing the harmful, anti-American energy policies of the Biden administration and H.R. 7023 – Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.