House sends government funding package to Senate hours ahead of shutdown deadline

The spending bills now heads to the Senate.

ByLauren Peller, Jay O'Brien, John Parkinson, and Sarah Beth Hensley ABCNews logo
Friday, March 22, 2024

The House passed a $1.2 trillion government funding package, the first in a series of steps that need to be taken to avert a partial government shutdown before a deadline at midnight Friday.

The bills passed in a 286-134 vote despite pushback from far-right members of the Republican caucus. More Democrats backed the bill than Republicans as more than 100 GOP lawmakers voted against it.

The funding package now heads to the Senate. It's not clear when a vote would happen in the chamber, though Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has asked senators to remain flexible and ready to act.

Any delay on the vote could mean that some agencies could feel a shutdown, albeit a short one.

The $1.2 trillion package -- considered a major bipartisan effort in the highly divided House -- provides funding for six bills including Defense, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Labor and Health and Human Services and Education, Legislative Branch and State and Foreign Operations.

If the package is passed by both chambers, the government will be funded through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. It will also put an end to the continuing resolution cycle that has led to Congress nearly shutting the government down, at least partially, five times since October.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson talks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on, Nov. 2, 2023.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The government funding package was introduced in the House under suspension of the rules, which required a two-thirds majority vote for passage. That meant, yet again, House Speaker Mike Johnson needed to rely on Democrats to get the bills across the finish line -- a move that landed his predecessor Kevin McCarthy in hot water and led to his ouster as speaker last year.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., took to the floor during an hour of debate to urge lawmakers to vote yes.

"This is a good result for the American people in terms of standing up for their health, their safety, their education, their national security protection and, of course, above all else, their economic wellbeing," Jeffries said.

"A bipartisan process, leading to a bipartisan result that will hopefully lay a foundation for us to continue to do the work of the American people together. Now, we've said from the very beginning of this Congress as Democrats that we will find bipartisan common ground whenever and wherever possible as long as it will make life better for the American people," he continued. "That's exactly what House Democrats continue to do. At the same time, we say we will push back against extremism whenever necessary."

In a news conference lambasting the government funding package Friday morning, the House Freedom Caucus members expressed frustration that not enough is being done to secure the southern border and end the release of migrants into the United States -- a hang-up that was part of the Department of Homeland Security funding negotiations.

"No border, no budget," said Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., who isn't a House Freedom Caucus member, but said he joined in on the news conference to express his displeasure with the funding package.

House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good, R-Va., said "we don't need 72 hours to vote against a bad bill," alluding to a House has a rule requiring 72 hours for members to review legislation before voting.

Many spoke directly to Johnson about their frustrations.

"Mr. Speaker, do the right thing," said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. "Pull this bill."