Congressional Leaders Reach $1.6 Trillion Spending Agreement

Congressional leaders in Washington D.C. announced a $1.59 trillion topline annual spending agreement Sunday in a critical deal to avert a looming government shutdown while staying in line with the new national debt limit set by a bipartisan budget agreement last year.

House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) said the deal paves the way for Congress to move forward on the budget process while acknowledging that “these final spending levels will not satisfy everyone, and they do not cut as much spending as many of us would like.”

“It’s even worse than we thought. Don’t believe the spin,” the House Freedom Caucus said. “Once you break through typical Washington math, the true total programmatic spending level is $1.658 trillion — not $1.59 trillion.” The hardline conservative caucus called the spending deal a “total failure.”

Democrat leaders on Capitol Hill meanwhile counted the agreement a victory toward keeping President Joe Biden’s pandemic emergency spending and climate change programs funded in the spending bill. “Both sides will need to work together in a bipartisan way and avoid a costly and disruptive shutdown,” said Democrats.

“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,” added the joint statement from Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), a member of the House Freedom Caucus and candidate for U.S. Senate this year, referred to the agreement as a “D.C. cartel spending deal,” and said Democrats only had to make “microscopic concessions”

Speaker Johnson, in a letter to Republicans on Sunday, wrote, “We have secured hard-fought concessions to unlock the FY 24 topline numbers and allow the Appropriations Committee to finally begin negotiating and completing the twelve annual appropriations bills.”

He said concessions from Democrats include “an additional $10 billion in cuts to the IRS mandatory funding (for a total of $20 billion), which was a key part of the Democrats’ ‘Inflation Reduction Act.’ In addition, we will cut $6.1 billion from the Biden Administration’s continued COVID-era slush funds, which we achieved despite fierce opposition.”