¡Que Onda Magazine!

Houston's oldest bilingual publication

Congress Strikes $1.59 Trillion Spending Deal Amid Looming Shutdown Threat

In a crucial move to avert a potential government shutdown, Congressional leaders announced a bipartisan deal on Sunday, setting a top-line spending budget of $1.59 trillion for the 2024 fiscal year. The agreement, reached just days before the looming Jan. 19 deadline, allocates $886 billion for military spending and $704 billion for non-defense expenditures.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana shared the details of the deal in a note on Sunday, highlighting the intense negotiations that led to the agreement. Johnson emphasized the importance of unlocking the FY 24 topline numbers, allowing the Appropriations Committee to initiate negotiations on the twelve annual appropriations bills.

Despite the deal signaling progress and cooperation between Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the possibility of a government shutdown still lingers as parties continue to grapple over key policy issues.

In a joint letter on Sunday, Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) expressed optimism about the framework agreement, stating that it would enable appropriators to address major challenges both domestically and internationally. They underscored the importance of maintaining investments for American families, secured by legislative achievements under President Biden and Congressional Democrats.

Acknowledging that the spending levels may not satisfy all parties, Johnson clarified that the deal provides a pathway to “move the process forward,” reprioritize funding towards conservative objectives, and advocate for important policy riders included in House FY24 bills.

Key concessions made in the deal include a $10-billion cut to IRS mandatory funding under the Inflation Reduction Act and a $6.1 billion reduction in “COVID-era slush funds.”

Schumer and Jeffries specified that the deal allocates $772.7 billion toward non-defense discretionary funding, safeguarding key domestic priorities from cuts sought by right-wing extremists.

The coming weeks present a significant test for Johnson’s leadership as House Speaker. With a shrinking majority and Louisiana Republican House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s absence, the GOP margin is reduced to one vote. This necessitates Democratic votes for any spending deal, making it challenging for House Republicans to pass bills along party lines.

President Biden, in a statement released on Sunday, expressed approval of the deal, urging Congressional Republicans to fulfill their responsibility to fund critical domestic and national security priorities and to act promptly to avoid a government shutdown.

The deal, while providing a potential resolution to the funding crisis, sets the stage for further negotiations and challenges in the weeks ahead.