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Biden signs $1.2 trillion spending package after Senate’s 2am vote

A partial government shutdown was averted on Saturday when President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion federal spending package, just hours after Congress passed the long overdue legislation.

“This agreement represents a compromise, which means neither side got everything it wanted,” the president said, in a statement. “But it rejects extreme cuts from House Republicans and expands access to child care, invests in cancer research, funds mental health and substance use care, advances American leadership abroad, and provides resources to secure the border that my Administration successfully fought to include. That’s good news for the American people.”

The White House said that Biden signed the legislation at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, where he is spending the weekend.

It took lawmakers six months of the current budget year to get near the finish line on government funding. The process has been slowed by conservatives who have pushed for more policy mandates and steeper cuts than a Democratic-led Senate or White House would consider. The impasse required several short-term spending bills to keep agencies funded.

A two-thirds majority was reached in the House of Representatives on Friday to pass the spending package – 286 voted in favour and 134 voted against — leaving the right wing of the Republican Party furious.

“This is a betrayal of Republican voters,” Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene told reporters after the vote. “The bill ... forced Republicans to choose between funding to pay our soldiers and in doing so, funding late-term abortion – this bill was basically a dream and a wish list for Democrats and for the White House.”

Ms Greene then filed a motion to stage a no-confidence vote in House Speaker Mike Johnson.

The Senate voted 74-24 in the early hours of Saturday, allowing the government to stay open and sending the bill to the president. The package will keep the government open until the end of Fiscal Year 2024 on 30 September.

Government funding had expired at midnight, before the Senate voted. However the White House sent a notice shortly after the deadline announcing that the Office of Management and Budget had ceased shutdown preparations because there was a high degree of confidence that Congress would pass the legislation and it would be signed into law.

The first package of full-year spending bills, for the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture and the Interior among others, cleared Congress two weeks ago with just hours to spare before funding expired for those agencies. The second covered the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State, as well as other aspects of general government.

When combined, discretionary spending for the budget year will come to about $1.66 trillion. That does not include programs such as Social Security and Medicare, or financing the country’s rising debt.

In his statement after signing the bill, Mr Biden continued: “I want to be clear: Congress’s work isn’t finished. The House must pass the bipartisan national security supplemental to advance our national security interests.

“And Congress must pass the bipartisan border security agreement — the toughest and fairest reforms in decades — to ensure we have the policies and funding needed to secure the border. It’s time to get this done.”

With reporting from the Associated Press