Federal funding is at risk of running out this month, potentially leading to a government shutdown. However, there is some good news as Congressional leaders have reached an agreement on the overall price tag of the next batch of government spending bills, thus avoiding a partial shutdown. The deal, which was confirmed by House Speaker Mike Johnson in a letter to his colleagues, sets top-line spending for fiscal year 2024 at $1.59 trillion.
These spending levels were agreed upon by President Joe Biden and then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during negotiations over the government’s debt limit. The framework maintains the $886 billion for defense funding and the $704 billion for non-defense spending, which were agreed upon during the debt limit negotiations as well. This agreement allows lawmakers to begin working on individual spending bills and potentially pass them before the government funding deadline on January 19.
The deal includes concessions secured by Republicans, including a $10 billion cut in funding to the IRS and a claw-back of about $6 billion in remaining COVID-19 relief funds. However, there are some House Republicans who may not be satisfied with the final spending levels, as they had advocated for more budget cuts.
Despite some dissatisfaction from Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries claim that the agreement is a win for Democrats and will enable them to address major challenges. President Biden also supports the funding framework and urges congressional Republicans to reach a deal on border funds and military aid for Israel and Ukraine.
However, there are hurdles that still need to be overcome. Democrats are opposed to “poison pill policy changes” that Republicans may push for. Sen. Patty Murray is working to prevent a needless shutdown and pass bipartisan spending bills, indicating that lawmakers will need to work quickly to prevent a government shutdown.
In conclusion, while federal funding is set to run out this month, the agreement reached by Congressional leaders on the overall price tag of the next batch of government spending bills is a positive step towards avoiding a government shutdown. With the support of President Biden and efforts from lawmakers like Sen. Patty Murray, there is hope that bipartisan spending bills can be passed before the funding deadline.