House passes government funding bill in race against time to avoid shutdown

Washington DC - The US House voted Friday to approve a sprawling $1.2 trillion package to fund the government, kicking off a race against the clock in the Senate to ensure the lights stay on past a midnight deadline.

House Speaker Mike Johnson faces a rebellion among far-right Republican representatives after he helped pass a government funding bill on Friday.
House Speaker Mike Johnson faces a rebellion among far-right Republican representatives after he helped pass a government funding bill on Friday.  © Chip Somodevilla / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Party leaders in the upper chamber were scrambling to agree on a sped-up timeline to green-light the legislation, with just hours left to avert a shutdown of several federal agencies, including defense and homeland security.

But the legislation has already been delayed by six months in a Congress which is divided almost evenly between the parties, and has been deadlocked by policy and spending disputes.

Party leaders fear the Senate may struggle to rubber-stamp the House vote before the midnight deadline, with arcane procedural rules threatening to push the action into the weekend.

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The House Republicans' right flank was angered by a lack of stricter border security provisions in the package, as well as the spending figure and the elevated speed with which the deal has been negotiated.

Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a motion to oust Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, accusing him of offering too many concessions to Democrats.

The far-right Georgia representative called the funding measure "an atrocious attack on the American people" in an excoriating floor speech.

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Far-right Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene pushed to oust Johnson for working with Democrats.
Far-right Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene pushed to oust Johnson for working with Democrats.  © REUTERS

A lapse in federal funding over Saturday and Sunday would have a limited impact on government operations and would not likely be felt by the public, as long as the spigot was turned back on at the start of the working week.

A longer pause could result in thousands of public employees being sent home without pay and a vast array of government operations and services being hit, from airport security to border controls.

"This funding agreement between the White House and congressional leaders is good news that comes in the nick of time," Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor of the upper chamber, putting a positive gloss on the chance of delays.

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Vote-counters had expected a couple of dozen Democratic dissenters in the House, including progressives upset about more than $3 billion in funding for Israel included in the package and cuts to UN funding for Gaza, where catastrophic humanitarian situation threatens to spiral into a full-blown famine caused by the Israeli assault.

The Democratic opposition ended up amounting to around two dozen votes, meaning the Republicans, who have a razor-thin majority, were required to contribute around 100 votes to achieve the two-thirds majority.

With the deadline looming fast, House Republican leaders had angered rank-and-file conservatives by dropping a rule that requires lawmakers to be given 72 hours to review any legislation before calling votes.

Cover photo: Chip Somodevilla / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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