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GOP, Dem Leaders Agree on 2024 Spending Levels as US Debt Screams Past $34 Trillion

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Congressional leaders have announced a $1.66 trillion agreement on overall spending levels for the government’s current fiscal year. They’re racing once again to avoid a partial government shutdown later this month.
    
The tentative deal does include some spending cuts, although not nearly enough for some conservatives who are concerned about the consequences of America’s skyrocketing national debt.

In a letter to colleagues on Sunday, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said the agreement would secure $16 billion in additional spending cuts from the previous agreement brokered by then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden and is about $30 billion less than what the Senate was considering. 

The agreement calls for $886 billion in defense funding. It would provide $772 billion in domestic, non-defense spending, including $69 billion called for in a side deal to the debt ceiling bill that McCarthy had reached with the White House last May. 

“This represents the most favorable budget agreement Republicans have achieved in over a decade,” Johnson wrote.

Biden said the agreement “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,” Biden said in a statement. 

The agreement speeds up the roughly $20 billion in cuts already agreed to for the Internal Revenue Service and rescinds about $6 billion in COVID relief money that had been approved but not yet spent, according to Johnson’s letter.

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slider img 2Lawmakers needed an agreement on overall spending levels so that appropriators could write the bills that set line-by-line funding for agencies. Now Congress is working against the clock. Government funding is set to lapse in less than two weeks on Jan. 19 for some agencies and Feb. 2 for others.

However, the agreement is separate from the negotiations that are taking place to secure additional funding for Israel and Ukraine while also curbing restrictions on asylum claims at the U.S. border.

Meanwhile, the House Freedom Caucus took to the social platform X Sunday night to voice its concerns with the bipartisan spending agreement, telling its followers the amount is higher.

“It’s even worse than we thought,” the conservative caucus wrote. “Don’t believe the spin. Once you break through typical Washington math, the true total programmatic spending level is $1.658 trillion — not $1.59 trillion,” the House conservatives continued. “This is total failure.”

The House is formally back in session on Jan. 9. Republicans will be directing the business of the chamber with only a two-seat majority this month. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) said on Friday he would be recuperating from cancer-related treatment until February. 

Republican leadership may have to put up for a vote any appropriations bills under suspension. Under suspension, floor debate is limited floor amendments are prohibited, points of argument against the bill are waived, and final passage requires a two-thirds vote, instead of a simple majority, meaning Democratic support would be necessary to pass any spending bills. 

The one-year agreement comes as the country faces a long-term problem as the national debt just soared past $34 trillion last week, and that number is still growing at an alarming rate.

The CBO projects the national debt will hit a stunning $50 trillion by 2033. Just the interest alone on the current debt level has now surpassed the current spending on the U.S. defense budget.





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