Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Tentative deal reached to avoid shutdown as negotiators resolve Homeland Security bill

By 37ci3 Mar19,2024

WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders reached an agreement on funding for the Department of Homeland Security late Monday, two sources familiar with the negotiations said, clearing the way for lawmakers to begin processing remaining spending bills and avert a government shutdown next weekend.

Details of the deal, which another source described as an agreement in principle, were not immediately available.

Funding for the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Labor and Health and Human Services and several other agencies will expire Saturday morning. Five other funding bills were effectively resolved by the end of last week, with only the Homeland Security bill presenting deep divisions that Republicans and Democrats have been unable to resolve.

By the end of the week, negotiators were poised to release a package containing five other funding bills that would separately fund DHS on a long-term hiatus, before reviving efforts to negotiate a full-year funding bill for the department. until the end of September.

Separately, a source familiar with the talks said the White House and other Democrats wanted more border security and enforcement money, while another source said Republicans wanted to prioritize DHS funds toward the agency’s core mission.

This return to negotiations has slowed down the release of text for all six bills. It will still be difficult for Congress to move spending bills because the appropriations committees have yet to release the legislative text of the bills. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said he would give lawmakers 72 hours to read the text before voting. The Senate will then require unanimous consent of all members to vote at 11:59 p.m. on Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown the next day.

The deal is being negotiated by Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the White House and top brass in both chambers. Congress, dividing the process into two parts, passed the first tranche of bills this month.

The political salience of immigration, particularly among conservatives, presents a land mine for Johnson.

On Monday afternoon, two leaders of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, Reps. Bob Good, R-Va. and Chip Roy, R-Texas, released a letter from 41 Republicans demanding that any DHS funding bill include “essential elements.” HR 2, the Border Security Act,” or President Joe Biden’s immigration policy, will not change, they said.

“That’s why we’re asking you to join us in rejecting the proposed appropriations package (or anything like it) that would directly fund this disastrous policy being introduced in the House, and choose instead to stand against this attack on the American people.” .

Hard-right members are expected to vote against the package, and their votes are not needed to form the bipartisan coalition needed to pass the bill. But if these members are angry enough, they could create political headaches for Johnson.

The White House has sought additional funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other operational needs, although both sides have argued over the appropriate place for border policy changes — a funding bill or a separate package.

Republicans rejected additional funding for ICE in a bipartisan border deal negotiated by senators and the White House, demanding additional policy changes. But they also have demands in the funding bill. The White House has also sought increased flexibility to help with border operations, sources familiar with the discussions said. It is unclear how many of Biden’s demands will be included in the bill.

It is highly unusual for Congress to continue haggling over government funding nearly half a year into a fiscal year. Funding for fiscal year 2025 is due by the end of September.

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By 37ci3

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