After narrowly avoiding a federal debt default, the Republican-dominated House and Democratic-led Senate are now on a collision course over spending, resulting in a government shutdown later in the year and an automatic shutdown in early 2025. significant spending cuts, which could have serious implications for the Department of Defense and government. Plenty of domestic programs.
Far-right Republican lawmakers, who need votes to keep government money, are demanding more cuts than the suspension of the debt ceiling agreed in a bipartisan compromise agreed by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last month. All such cuts, however, are certain to be no first-time winners in the Senate.
An impending stalemate threatens to complicate an already very difficult process. For the first time in years, top members of Congress are about to pass separate spending bills to fund each branch of government. In an orderly way, avoiding the usual way. Year-end pile up. Failure to do so under the terms of the debt-restriction deal would result in sweeping spending cuts beginning in 2025, a worst-case scenario that lawmakers from both parties want to avoid.
The clashes began this week when the House announced it would begin considering appropriations bills, try to appease ultraconservatives, and fund federal agencies at levels below what Biden and McCarthy agreed to. rice field.
Democrats frowned on the move, saying it would wreak havoc on the economy and the smooth functioning of government.
Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat and chair of the Appropriations Committee, said, “I will fully comply with the mandates passed by the Senate and House and signed by the President.” “I keep them in the mess box,” she said of House Republicans.
This approach is particularly ill-advised, she added, given that many right-wing congressional lawmakers reflexively vote against government spending bills.
“I don’t think the country wants us there. They don’t want a mess,” Murray said. “They don’t want a few people to decide the fate of our economy.”
In the face of far-right Republican insurgency over the debt limit deal, Mr. McCarthy and his leadership blinded Democrats this week by setting the apportionment of 12 annual appropriations bills at 2022 levels. That’s about $119 billion less than the $1.59 trillion allowed under the Debt Limitation Agreement. Agreed to raise the debt ceiling.
The cut in spending levels demanded by members of the Freedom Caucus, who closed the House last week to express their anger over the debt-restriction deal, will come to a partisan vote on Thursday after hours of bitter debate in which Democrats blame Republicans. passed by the appropriations committee. withdraw the compromise.
“Although the bipartisan budget deal is still largely dry, we are here to examine the spending agenda of the Republican majority that completely undermines the compromises made in less than two weeks. said Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the top Democrat on spending. Committee.
Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger, chair of the committee, said using the lower numbers would allow the House to “refocus government spending in line with Republican priorities.” . McCarthy said he believes the spending cap set in the accord is just a cap and that the House wants to cut spending.
“There’s no limit to how low you can go,” he said, suggesting that Republicans “can make government more efficient, save hardworking taxpayers more, and waste less in Washington.” He said he wanted to show it to the public. ”
But with the two parties’ differing approaches on both sides of the Capitol, the spending bill is sure to be extremely difficult to pass. Failure to pass and coordinate bills in the House and Senate by October 1 could lead to a government shutdown. And if individual bills aren’t approved by the end of the year, the 1% automatic cuts will take effect, defense hawks say would be a devastating blow to the Pentagon and U.S. support for the Ukrainian military. are doing.
The heads of spending bills in both houses say they need to move forward given their options.
“From my perspective, the Senate can only move forward,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee. “I hope the House finds a way to reach an agreement.”
The first all-female Appropriations Committee’s four leaders voted on the 12 appropriations bills in “normal order” from the outset, hoping to avoid the annual ceremony parliamentary leaders have taken. was saying They gather in a suite where he bundles hundreds of billions of dollars in spending into one package to close a last-minute “take or leave” deal.
As part of the debt relief agreement, New York Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kentucky Republican Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell released statements calling for and promoting House consideration of the appropriations bill. I will,” he promised. .
In recent years, leaders have shied away from parliamentary fights over spending bills because they are slow and can force lawmakers to vote politically. But many lawmakers have complained that the practice has left them out of parliament’s most basic functions, and the commissioners say they want to end the practice.
“What most of us try to avoid is a giant year-end recap that excludes the views of many members of the general public,” Collins said. “If we do our work as planned, it will be healthy for the Senate dynamics, good for our country, good for federal programs and agencies.”
At this point, with the House and Senate at odds since the beginning of extended consideration of the appropriations bill, completing the appropriations bill on time, which has not been met in recent times, looms as a tall order. But those responsible say they cannot surrender.
“If we all said, ‘Oh, we can’t do anything, there could be a train wreck,’ why are we here?” Murray asked. “My job is to get the bill done, and to do everything in my power to get it through the Senate.”
Current turmoil may clear up as the deadline for action approaches, she said.
“I wouldn’t measure today what the temperature will be three months from now,” Murray warned. “We still have a long way to go.”