House, Senate Leaders Agree to $1.66T Budget

Package will have to clear both houses to avert shutdown, possibly over GOP opposition
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2024 3:45 PM CST
Congressional Leaders Agree on Budget but Have Little Time
The Capitol Dome on Dec. 14   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Congressional leaders announced Sunday they've reached a deal to finance the federal government for the year, avoiding a shutdown, that totals $1.66 trillion. Despite a Republican push to shrink the budget, the agreement has money for domestic and social safety net programs, the Washington Post reports. The next challenge is passing the budget in time; money for about 20% of the government runs out Jan. 19, and the rest on Feb. 2. And though the deal includes some concessions to the GOP House members most adamant about cutbacks, it appears likely to face opposition from them.

The total amount adheres to the level agreed to last year in the deal reached by President Biden and Kevin McCarthy, who was speaker of the House, per the New York Times. That also met with Republican opposition. The plan sets nondefense spending at $772.7 billion, about where it is. It raises defense spending to $886.3 billion. Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, who announced the deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, wrote his members on Sunday that the agreement locks in $16 billion in additional spending cuts from the deal last year. "This represents the most favorable budget agreement Republicans have achieved in over a decade," Johnson said, per the AP. Biden issued a statement also saying the deal is in keeping with the last one.

"It rejects deep cuts to programs hardworking families count on, and provides a path to passing full-year funding bills that deliver for the American people and are free of any extreme policies," the president said. And it's a step toward avoiding "a needless government shutdown," he said. Johnson said the deal accelerates $20 billion in agreed-upon cuts to the Internal Revenue Service. It also cancels about $6 billion in COVID relief funds that hadn't been spent yet, according to the letter. GOP Sen. Susan Collins said she's not sure how multiple bills can be combined and pass the House and Senate before funding runs out. "This is not going to be easy, to give the understatement of 2024," she said. (More government shutdown stories.)

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