Johnson Announces Deal With Senate Democrats

Johnson Announces Deal With Senate Democrats

( – House Speaker Mike Johnson told fellow lawmakers in a letter on January 7 that Republican and Democratic negotiators reached a deal on topline spending for the fiscal year 2024 in an effort to prevent a government shutdown before January 19. Negotiators agreed to a topline spending figure of $1.59 trillion for FY24, including $886 billion in defense spending, Johnson’s letter said.

Lawmakers came to the agreement after “many weeks” of debate, the letter claimed. The deal allows Congress to move forward on appropriations bills, one set of which lawmakers must pass before January 19, lest a partial government shutdown begin. Congress must pass a second set of appropriations bills by February 2 as well.

In addition to the $886 billion in defense spending, the deal also provides for $704 billion in non-defense spending, the letter noted. However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement on the agreement that non-defense discretionary spending will be set at $772.7 billion.

According to the statement, Democrats will not accept the inclusion of “poison pill” policy measures in any of the dozen appropriations bills. Nevertheless, the agreement includes a total of $20 billion in cuts to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mandatory funding, as well as a $6.1 billion cut to pandemic-era slush funds.

Democrats and Republicans will need to continue to cooperate to avoid a partial or full government shutdown, Schumer added.

However, the agreement faces opposition from the House Freedom Caucus, which has urged greater fiscal responsibility in Congress. The group of Republicans called the deal a “total failure” and disputed the topline spending figure. Programmatic spending is actually $1.658 trillion, they claim.

On December 29, the House Freedom Caucus issued a statement urging Congress to cut programmatic spending year-over-year from FY23 levels. Lawmakers attempt to obscure actual spending using “shady” side deals and accounting tricks, the statement said.

Regardless of the precise spending figures, it appears as though congressional leadership will continue with the agreement — despite concerns from their colleagues.

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