Congress Finally Funds the Government

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • A terrorist attack on a concert hall in Moscow, Russia, on Friday night killed at least 137 people and injured 150 more. The attackers shot into the crowds inside the venue and set off explosions that caught the building on fire. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and four men—all reportedly from Tajikistan—who officials believe were responsible for the violence have been arraigned in Moscow on terrorism charges. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Ukraine was responsible for the attack, suggesting in a speech on Saturday that the attackers were attempting to flee to Ukraine when caught by Russian security services. “ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack,” Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a statement. “There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever.” The U.S. had received intelligence about a potential terrorist attack and shared the information with Russian authorities earlier this month, though Putin called the warnings “blackmail” from the West. 
  • Russia launched a series of strikes against Ukrainian electrical infrastructure over the weekend that knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the war-torn country. One of the Russian missiles targeting Western Ukraine violated Poland’s airspace, according to the Polish military. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed the disruption in U.S. military aid for the severity of the attacks. “It is important to understand the cost of delays and postponed decisions,” he said. “We need air-defense systems to protect people, infrastructure, houses, and dams.” Russian forces also struck Kyiv with a barrage of dozens of missiles and drones on Sunday, though Ukrainian forces claimed to have shot down the majority of the weapons used in the attack.
  • The Israel Defense Forces clashed with Hamas over the weekend in Khan Younis and Gaza City in large raids on Nassar and Al-Shifa hospitals, both areas the Israeli military had previously secured and cleared in the southern and northern parts of the enclave. The fighting resulted in hundreds of Hamas members being killed or detained, according to Israeli officials, and the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health said five patients died as a result of the fighting at Al-Shifa hospital. Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrived in Washington yesterday to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and other senior officials. 
  • The Nigerian army on Sunday rescued 137 schoolchildren abducted by gunmen earlier this month. On March 7, local school officials in Kaduna state—an area north of the Nigerian capital, Abuja—claimed 287 students were kidnapped. But Uba Sani, the governor of Kaduna, claimed Sunday that only 137 students were missing from the March attack and that all had been rescued. 
  • The Senate voted 74-24 early Saturday morning to pass a $1.2 trillion spending package, which President Joe Biden quickly signed to avert a shutdown and complete government funding through the end of the fiscal year in September. The government technically ran out of funds at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, but the Office of Budget and Management said in a statement it “ceased shutdown preparations” when the legislation’s passage became imminent. Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a motion to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson from his position on Friday as the House passed the spending package. Greene has not requested a vote on the motion and described the move as “more of a warning and a pink slip.”
  • GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin announced Friday that he will resign from Congress on April 19. Gallagher, who serves as the chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, had previously said he would not seek reelection, and his resignation before the end of his term will bring the House Republican majority down to a single seat.
  • New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy suspended her campaign for Senate on Sunday, clearing the way for Democratic Rep. Andy Kim to secure the Democratic nomination to replace Sen. Bob Menendez. Menendez is facing federal bribery charges and announced last week that he wouldn’t seek reelection as a Democrat but hinted at running as an independent.
  • Catherine, Princess of Wales, announced on Friday that she had been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. Kate, 42, explained in a video message that after she underwent “major abdominal surgery” in January, subsequent tests revealed the presence of cancer. She disclosed neither the details nor the severity of her diagnosis and requested privacy for her family, including her three children, as she undergoes treatment.

Congress Does Its Job … Six Months Late 

House Speaker Mike Johnson returns to his office at the Capitol on March 22, 2024, after GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced a motion to vacate. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
House Speaker Mike Johnson returns to his office at the Capitol on March 22, 2024, after GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced a motion to vacate. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

As Senators plowed through amendment vote after amendment vote late Friday night and into the wee hours of Saturday morning in an effort to forestall a government shutdown, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont sat contentedly at his desk on the Senate floor, earbuds in, looking at his iPad. There’s even money on whether he was watching tape of an old boxing match or the Wolf of Wall Street

Sanders’ apparent boredom notwithstanding, the Senate ultimately passed—by a vote of 74-24—the 1,012-page government funding package worth $1.2 trillion a few minutes before 2 a.m. on Saturday, with no amendments that would have sent the whole thing back to the House to pass again. Though the Senate passed the bill after midnight on Friday, when funding technically expired, the Office of Management and Budget told federal employees to cease their preparations for a shutdown when it became clear that the legislation would advance.

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