Will Congress Pass Critical Appropriations Bills Before Midnight Deadline?

The White House and congressional leaders appear to have reached a deal on the remaining appropriations bills to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. The question now is whether they can pass them quickly enough to beat a midnight Friday deadline and avoid a shutdown.

Tuesday, March 19th 2024, 5:41 pm

By: News 9, Alex Cameron


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The White House and congressional leaders appear to have reached a deal on the remaining appropriations bills to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. The question now is whether they can pass them quickly enough to beat a midnight Friday deadline and avoid a shutdown.

Passage of this second tranche of six appropriations bills is a ‘heavy’ lift -- the bills include funding for Departments of Defense, State, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Homeland Security -- they make up about three-fourths of all discretionary spending.

There was overwhelming bipartisan support two weeks ago for the other six bills, which included funding for things like Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and Military Construction. "Including about $75 million that will go towards Tinker Air Force Base and a new KC 46-A hangar," said 5th District Congresswoman Stephanie Bice in an interview.

Four KC-46 hangars have already been built at Tinker but the mission calls for three more, as the Air Force replaces its aging KC-135 refueling tankers.

The project is one of many 'earmarks' obtained by four members of the state's delegation (Bice, Cole, Lucas, Mullin). Rep. Bice says they are better understood by the formal name: congressionally directed spending.

"Because these are dollars that are going to be spent anyway," Bice pointed out. "The question is, are we as members of Congress -- duly elected members representing our constituencies -- able to direct where those dollars should go?"

Bice and Sen. Markwayne Mullin helped ensure that about $25 million is being directed toward the maintenance of the Kerr-McClellan Arkansas River Navigation System.

"This is really going to be a pretty frugal budget for the coming year," said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK3) in a recent interview.

$1.66 trillion in total discretionary spending was the agreement reached by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Democratic leaders in the Senate and President Biden. The minibus Congress expects to pass this week -- now that there's been an agreement on Homeland Security funding -- will be worth about $1.2 trillion, much more than many on the far right are comfortable with and less than some on the far left want.

But it will likely pass with majorities in the middle of both parties. "The bottom line is," said Lucas, "government shutdowns never help anybody, it just causes frustration."

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