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Congress reaches a deal on how much to spend for 2024 as shutdown deadline nears

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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a deal Sunday on how much the U.S. government will spend in the new year, a significant step toward avoiding a shutdown.

But while the agreement on a “topline” spending level breaks a logjam that had stalled the process, it doesn’t necessarily extinguish the shutdown threat as the first of two deadlines nears on Jan. 19, when some parts of the government will run out of money.

“The bipartisan topline appropriations agreement clears the way for Congress to act over the next few weeks in order to maintain important funding priorities for the American people and avoid a government shutdown,” Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both New York Democrats, said in a statement.

The deal would establish an overall spending level of $1.59 trillion in fiscal year 2024, reflecting the bipartisan budget deal struck last year by President Joe Biden and then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Johnson, R-La., told colleagues in a letter. The breakdown is $886 billion for the military and $704 billion for nondefense spending, Johnson said.

Johnson added that there will be “key modifications” to the agreement in order to reduce nonmilitary spending with a $16 billion “offset.” That includes $6.1 billion in unused Covid funds and $10 billion in IRS money under the Inflation Reduction Act, Johnson said.

“While these final spending levels will not satisfy everyone, and they do not cut as much spending as many of us would like, this deal does provide us a path to: 1) move the process forward; 2) reprioritize funding within the topline towards conservative objectives, instead of last year’s Schumer-Pelosi omnibus; and 3) fight for the important policy riders included in our House FY24 bills,” Johnson wrote in his letter to colleagues.

A senior Democratic aide said the Biden-McCarthy deal included $20.2 billion in IRS cuts spread over two years; the new agreement with Johnson just means they’ll happen over one year instead.

Schumer and Jeffries said that when factoring in the added $69 billion, the nondefense discretionary spending level will be $772.7 billion in the new fiscal year under the deal.

“The framework agreement to proceed will enable the appropriators to address many of the major challenges America faces at home and abroad. It will also allow us to keep the investments for hardworking American families secured by the legislative achievements of President Biden and Congressional Democrats. Finally, we have made clear to Speaker Mike Johnson that Democrats will not support including poison pill policy changes in any of the twelve appropriations bills put before the Congress,” they said.

The Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate still need to establish — and agree on — how to allocate those funds. Then they’ll need to write and publish legislation to that effect and pass that through both chambers.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, a conservative hard-liner, sounded unhappy with the emerging details in Iowa on Sunday while campaigning for Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis.

“I don’t like what I’m hearing,” Roy said.

Roy said the spending level after including the nondefense spending adjustments is $1.644 trillion. “$1.644 is s—, and you can quote me on that,” he said.

Another obstacle to passing funding legislation is that conservative hard-liners like Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., have threatened a shutdown unless Congress acts to toughen immigration and asylum laws by the funding deadline.

Biden praised the agreement in a statement Sunday.

“The bipartisan funding framework congressional leaders have reached moves us one step closer to preventing a needless government shutdown and protecting important national priorities. It reflects the funding levels that I negotiated with both parties and signed into law last spring,” he said. “Now, congressional Republicans must do their job, stop threatening to shut down the government, and fulfill their basic responsibility to fund critical domestic and national security priorities, including my supplemental request. It’s time for them to act.”

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