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Government Shutdown Averted as Senate and House Pass VA Budget

The House of Representatives approved full-year funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies in the first full week of March.

The bill was sent to the Senate on March 8, which passed it. The funding bill was sent to the President’s desk for signature. The spending bills were signed into law by the President.

The funding, which also applies to long-delayed military construction projects, is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024, was approved in near-last-minute fashion, and prevents a partial shutdown that would have taken effect at midnight following the Senate vote.

A Larger Federal Spending Package

The VA and military construction bills were part of a months-long partisan stalemate over irrelevant-to-national-security culture war add-ons included by factions in the House of Representatives.

These are called “poison pill” add-ons by some who feel they distract from the main issue at hand–authorizing basic funding of the federal government.

In the end, House factions lost the bid to keep those add-ons, save one, a move to prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from reporting veterans found “mentally incapable” of handling their own money matters to a federal firearm background check system.

Under the new laws passed by the House and Senate, veterans can only be reported after the VA obtains a court order stating the veteran is a danger to themselves before they may be reported.

Add-Ons Cut From Final VA Spending Bill

Other culture war add-ons to the VA spending bill were yanked from the final version submitted by the House to the Senate.

Among them is a proposed ban on Pride flags at VA facilities. Another was an attempt by some House lawmakers without medical training, context, and experience to dictate how and when the Department of Veterans Affairs could offer reproductive care and gender-affirming medical care for transgender veterans.

What’s In The VA Spending Bill

The House Appropriations Committee Chair’s official site notes the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, which contains the full-year budget for both these areas) includes a fully funded budget for veteran medical care plus money for military construction projects, barracks improvement, and related military infrastructure projects.

What’s Next?

President Biden signed the current round of spending bills, but another set of bills must be passed to fund the remainder of government agencies. That includes the full-year federal budget for the Department of Defense by March 22, 2024, or the government will shut down.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are negotiating a second package of six bills, including defense, to fully fund all federal agencies by a March 22 deadline. If that deadline is not met, a government shutdown is likely.

About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.