Biden Signs Final FY2024 Appropriations Package

Biden Signs Final FY2024 Appropriations Package

Six months into FY2024, Congress finally finished work on FY2024 appropriations early this morning.  President Biden quickly signed the bill into law. With the FY2025 request already pending before Congress, House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger suddenly announced she is stepping down from that role. She is retiring at the end of this Congress and wants her successor named now to take the bills all the way to their conclusion, which likely will be after her departure.

The $1.2 trillion Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024, H.R. 2882, funds departments and agencies in six of the 12 regular appropriations bills: Defense, Financial Services-General Government (including the FCC), Homeland Security, Labor-Health and Human Services, Legislative Branch (which funds Congress itself), and State-Foreign Operations.

The Defense portion of the bill accounts for the lion’s share of the money, $825 billion. Of that, $28.9 billion is for the U.S. Space Force, about $2.5 billion more than FY2023, but $1.4 billion less than the FY2024 request.

The Senate passed the bill about 2:00 am this morning, two hours after the Continuing Resolution expired, by a vote of 74-24. The 74 aye votes were 47 Democrats, 25 Republicans, and 2 Independents. The 24 nay votes were 1 Democrat, 22 Republicans, and 1 Independent. Two Republicans did not vote.

Senate vote on the second FY2024 appropriations “minibus,” March 23, 2024. Screengrab from C-SPAN.

The House passed it hours earlier 286-134, a closer vote than may appear at first glance. The House considered the bill under “suspension of the rules” which requires a two-thirds vote to pass instead of a simple majority. With 420 Members voting, 280 aye votes were needed and the bill got 286.

House vote on the second FY2024 appropriations “minibus,” March 22, 2024. Screengrab from C-SPAN.

President Biden signed it into law around lunchtime, praising its passage while again urging Congress to also pass the national security supplemental with aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

Congress cleared the first set of six bills, including those that fund NASA, NOAA and the FAA, on March 8.

The House and Senate are now on a two-week spring break, returning the week of April 8.

Just before leaving, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), sent a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) asking that the Republican Steering Committee and Conference choose a new chair for the House Appropriations Committee. Granger, 81, is retiring at the end of this Congress. Acknowledging that the FY2025 appropriations process likely will run into the next Congress, which begins on January 3, 2025, she said she wants to ensure a “seamless transition before the FY25 bill development begins in earnest.”

Rumors already are flying as to who is likely to succeed her, but it could result in changes to members of the 12 subcommittees. Space funding primarily is in the Defense subcommittee chaired by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), 70, and the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee chaired by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), who at 86 is the “Dean of the House” — the longest continually serving member. CJS funds NASA and NOAA. The FAA and its Office of Commercial Space Transportation is funded by the Transportation-HUD subcommittee chaired by Tom Cole (R-OK), 74.

Roll Call reports that Cole is leading the pack and is endorsed by Calvert, but Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) is another contender. Aderholt chairs the Labor-HHS subcommittee and is a member both of the Defense and CJS subcommittees. He’s a passionate supporter of NASA projects at Marshall Space Flight Center.

Another big surprise as the House was departing was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) filing a “motion to vacate” — to force Speaker Johnson out. This is the same House Republican process used to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) last fall, sending the House into disarray for three weeks.

Greene took only the first step yesterday, telling reporters it is “more of a warning” and does not have a time limit for when she might force a vote. But it is a Damoclean sword hanging over the chamber.

She insisted she does not want to throw the House into chaos again, but Republicans need to find a new Speaker who will “stand with Republicans and our Republican majority instead of standing with the Democrats.” She considers Johnson to be “in the arms of Democrats” as exemplified by passage of the FY2024 appropriations bills as two packages instead of individually, full of objectionable provisions, and not protecting the border, while pointing to the fact that a majority of Republicans voted against the bill.

The bill did have Republican support. House Republicans voted 101 in favor and 112 against. In the Senate, 25 Republicans were in favor and 22 against.

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