Shutdown Crisis Averted! Congress Reaches Last-Minute Spending Deal

Shutdown Crisis Averted! Congress Reaches Last-Minute Spending Deal

Congressional leaders have finally hammered out an agreement on the overall cost of the upcoming series of government spending bills, marking a crucial development in preventing a partial shutdown slated to commence later this month. The Last-Minute Spending Deal was announced on Sunday, establishing a top-line spending figure of $1.59 trillion for fiscal year 2024. This amount aligns with the original agreement reached between President Joe Biden and then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during negotiations on the government’s debt limit last year.

The proposed framework maintains the $886 billion earmarked for defense funding in the 2024 fiscal year, alongside the $704 billion allocated for non-defense spending, a key point of contention during debt limit negotiations pushed by Democrats. With these figures settled, lawmakers in both the House and Senate can now focus on crafting the text of individual spending bills. This process has been a persistent source of debate on Capitol Hill, especially among House Republicans, some of whom ousted McCarthy in October amid disagreements over how to proceed with spending legislation.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, McCarthy’s successor, confirmed the agreement’s key details in a letter to colleagues on Sunday, highlighting Republican concessions, including an expedited $10 billion cut to IRS funding and a claw-back of approximately $6 billion in remaining COVID-19 relief funds. Although Johnson acknowledged that the “final spending levels will not satisfy everyone” and may not cut spending as much as desired, he emphasized that the agreement enables the funding process to advance while allowing negotiators to “reprioritize funding within the topline towards conservative objectives.”

Despite potential opposition from some conservatives who sought more significant budget cuts, the agreement paves the way for lawmakers to swiftly draft and pass spending bills before the looming government funding deadline on Jan. 19. Various programs, such as agriculture, energy, housing, and transportation, are set to run out of funds on that date under the last stopgap government funding bill passed by Congress in the fall.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries issued a joint statement on Sunday, asserting that the agreement represents a win for Democrats by preserving Biden’s negotiations while circumventing Republican objections. They highlighted the bipartisan nature of the appropriations agreement, emphasizing that it allows Congress to address critical challenges both domestically and internationally over the next few weeks.

President Joe Biden expressed support for the funding framework on Sunday, stating that it “rejects deep cuts to programs hardworking families count on.” He also urged congressional Republicans to reach a deal on border funds and military aid for Israel and Ukraine, issues entangled in Washington as conservatives advocate for substantial immigration policy changes.

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Lawmakers face a tight timeline to avert the impending government shutdown, with Johnson vowing to fight for key policy riders favored by Republicans. However, Schumer and Jeffries made it clear in their statement that they would oppose any “poison pill policy changes” introduced by the speaker.

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Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on her chamber’s appropriations committee, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “we cannot afford to delay further.” She pledged to work tirelessly with colleagues in the coming days to prevent a needless shutdown and pass bipartisan spending bills devoid of partisan impediments, safeguarding essential investments and addressing the challenges facing constituents.

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