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Biden signs bill to fund government, ending shutdown fears

President Joe Biden speaks at Stupak Community Center on Tuesday in Las Vegas.  (Ian Maule)
By Aishvarya Kavi New York Times

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion spending package Saturday, putting an end to the prospect of a government shutdown after the legislation passed a rushed series of congressional votes with bipartisan support and landed on his desk just after 2 a.m.

The government faced a potential shutdown if the measure was not signed into law before midnight Friday. But as the Senate vote ticked past that hour, the White House released a statement saying that federal officials at the Office of Management and Budget had “ceased shutdown preparations” in anticipation of imminent Senate passage and signing by Biden.

In a statement, Biden said the measure’s approval was “good news for the American people.” But he alluded to the months of drawn-out negotiations that preceded the last-minute approvals, saying that the agreement was “a compromise” and that “neither side got everything it wanted.”

The spending deal “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,” Biden said.

The 1,012-page legislative package lumped together the remaining six of 12 annual spending bills to fund key parts of the government through September, the end of the fiscal year. It was the culmination of months of painstaking negotiations during which Congress passed four stopgap measures.

Lawmakers wrote the package that Biden signed Saturday to comply with the debt and spending deal negotiated last year by the House speaker at the time, Kevin McCarthy, and Biden. It called for keeping spending on domestic programs essentially flat.

Hard-right Republicans in the House opposed the bill, which drew bipartisan support. After its passage was all but certain, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., began the process of calling for a vote to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La. In the end, more than half of Republicans voted against the spending measure, and it passed with a 286-134 vote. The Senate tally was more lopsided, with 74 voting in favor and 24 against.

Democrats and Republicans both highlighted victories in the final legislation. Republicans cited as victories funding for 2,000 new Border Patrol agents, additional detention beds run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a provision cutting off aid to the main United Nations agency that provides assistance to Palestinians. Democrats, including Biden, secured funding increases for federal child care and education programs, cancer and Alzheimer’s research.

Biden noted that two important pieces of legislation were still pending in Congress: an agreement on border security and a foreign aid package that would provide arms to Israel and Ukraine. The Senate approved the foreign aid measure in a bipartisan vote last month, but it faces hostility from House Republicans .

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.