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Government Shutdown Averted: Congress passes Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill Government Shutdown Averted

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On March 8, U.S. senators approved a $460 billion spending package by a vote of 75 to 22, with 21 Republicans and one Democrat voting in opposition, in time to meet the midnight deadline for avoiding a government shutdown of key federal agencies, sending it on for the president’s signature.

The six bills are part of an equation Congress must solve before the next funding deadline of March 22, when the other six bills, which are much more challenging and include a higher price tag, come due.

Within the spending package, lawmakers secured more than $900 million in Community Project Funding – formerly called earmarks – while the remaining spending measures include Defense, Homeland Security, Financial Services, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, the Legislative Branch and State-Foreign Operations, which are still operating under a continuing resolution but are anticipated to be fully funded by March 22.

Lawmakers speak out

Senate debates transpired over the spending package, arguing earmarks in the bill should be removed, although several conservative senators argued the spending levels were too high and it didn’t do enough to rein in the current administration.

According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations website, Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) believes the bill includes important priorities like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), housing assistance, environmental protection programs and Veterans’ healthcare.

“This first package is evidence we can get things done when everyone is focused on what can actually help folks back at home and what can actually pass in a divided government,” Murray says. “This isn’t the package I would have written on my own, but I am proud we have protected absolutely vital funding American people rely on in their daily lives.”

Chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Subcommittee Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) states, “As chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, I am focused on delivering for American families, farmers, producers and rural communities.”

“Though we had to make some tough decisions to get there, this bill gets it done,” Heinrich continues. “I am especially proud we stood firm to fully fund WIC and other programs which will help put food on the table for America’s kids.” 

Closer to home, Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-WY) released a statement on her website, which reads, “Washington’s addiction to spending must be stopped. With a national debt of over $34 trillion – a debt growing by $1 trillion every 100 days – we must be bold in our efforts to fix this very real problem.” 

“Some issues are too important not to fight for, and our obscene national debt is one of those issues,” she adds. “This minibus provides over $60 billion more in discretionary spending than the same six appropriations bills drafted by House Republicans earlier this year.”

Hageman notes, “In addition to this overspending, many of the issues important to Wyoming, which were included in earlier bills passed by the House of Representatives, have been left out of this minibus.”

“Delisting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly and halting the implementation of the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan were stripped from the final spending package, and money to implement a program which isn’t even law – electronic identification (EID) ear tags for cattle and bison – was increased, making our fight against mandatory EID even more difficult,” she concludes.

Appropriation key points

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will see its funding rise by $383 million to a total of $22.3 billion. Several of the accounts within the bill were singled out for specific spending boosts, including the Agriculture Research Service, the Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC. 

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC serves nearly seven million women and kids nationwide by providing $7.03 billion for the program, a $1.03 billion increase over Fiscal Year 2023, ensuring all eligible participants can continue to rely on the essential nutrition assistance and support provided by WIC.

The bill fully funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, serving an estimated 42 million people per month and fully funds child nutrition programs which serve an estimated five billion lunches and 2.6 billion breakfasts to kids across the country.

Additional USDA accounts will see reductions in their budget authority and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Agricultural Marketing Service will all need to account for millions less in spending than they currently have.

The bill provides funding for numerous agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation and military construction projects.

The bill also strengthens oversight of foreign purchases of U.S. farmland, an issue of  concern in recent months. 

The bill added the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. and provides $2 million in funding to ensure the secretary can notify the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. when agricultural land is sold to entities which “may pose a risk to national security,” specifically listing purchases by China, Iran, North Korea and Russia.

The Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bill totals $68.5 billion in discretionary spending, with $37.5 billion going to the Department of Justice, $24.9 billion for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, $10.8 billion for the Commerce Department and $9.1 billion for the National Science Foundation, which are decreases from the current funding level.

In addition, medical care at the Department of Veterans Affairs would receive $121 billion in funding, an increase of $2.3 billion compared to its current funding level. Funds will be divvied up between numerous initiatives, including Veterans’ homelessness programs, mental health, rural healthcare and women’s healthcare.

Funding for the Bureau of Land Management would be cut $81 million to $1.38 billion and spending on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would drop by $51 million to $1.7 billion.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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