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Biden sanctions US$1.2 trillion budget package that avoids government shutdown | World and Science

Joe Biden stated that the package represents a compromiseAFP

Published 03/23/2024 17:10

United States President Joe Biden signed into law this Saturday a $1.2 trillion budget package, ending the threat of a partial government shutdown. The funding project for government agencies had been approved by the Senate by 74 to 24 votes shortly after the deadline passed, at midnight local time. On Friday, the Chamber approved the package with 286 votes in favor and 134 against.

“This agreement represents a compromise, which means neither side got everything they wanted,” Biden said in a statement. “But he rejects extreme cuts from House Republicans and expands access to child care, invests in cancer research, funds mental health and substance abuse care, promotes American leadership abroad and provides resources to secure the border. This is good news for the American people,” he said.

It took lawmakers six months from the start of the fiscal year to come closer to a government funding deal, in a process that was slowed by conservatives who pushed for more political mandates and deeper spending cuts. The impasse required several short-term spending bills to keep the agencies funded.

The first package of annual spending bills, which funded the Veterans Affairs, Agriculture and Interior departments, among others, was approved by Congress two weeks ago, just before the deadline. The second covered the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State, as well as other aspects of government in general. When combining the two packages, discretionary spending for the fiscal year will come to about $1.66 trillion, not including programs like Social Security and Medicare, or financing the nation’s debt.

On aid to Ukraine, championed by Biden and his administration, the package provided $300 million under the defense spending umbrella. This funding is separate from a major assistance package for Ukraine and Israel that is stalled on Capitol Hill.

The spending package largely follows a deal that then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached with the White House in May 2023, which restricted spending for two years and suspended the debt ceiling until January 2025 so that the federal government could continue paying its bills.

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