Congressional leaders announce spending deal that would avert next government shutdown

ByRachel Scott and Allison Pecorin ABCNews logo
Sunday, January 7, 2024
Congressional leaders announce deal to avoid government shutdown
The deal was announced Sunday.

Congressional leaders have at last reached agreement on the overall price tag of the next batch of government spending bills, lawmakers announced on Sunday -- a major step toward averting a partial shutdown that is set to begin later this month.

The deal would set top-line spending for fiscal year 2024 at $1.59 trillion, the amount originally agreed to by President Joe Biden and then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during negotiations over the government's debt limit last year.

The framework proposes keeping in place the $886 billion agreed to for defense funding in the 2024 fiscal year while also maintaining the $704 billion in non-defense spending that Democrats insisted upon during the debt limit negotiations.

Agreeing on those figures allows lawmakers in the House and Senate to begin working on the text of individual spending bills -- an ongoing point of contention on Capitol Hill, particularly among House Republicans, a faction of whom ousted McCarthy in October amid infighting over how to move forward on spending legislation.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who was chosen to succeed McCarthy, confirmed the key details of the agreement in a letter to his colleagues on Sunday afternoon.

Johnson touted concessions Republicans secured in the deal, including an expedited $10 billion cut in funding to the IRS and a claw-back of about $6 billion in remaining COVID-19 relief funds.

Johnson, in his letter, conceded that the "final spending levels will not satisfy everyone, and they do not cut as much spending as many of us would like," but he noted that the agreement would allow the funding process to move forward while allowing negotiators to "reprioritize funding within the topline towards conservative objectives."

However, the new speaker could face an uphill battle selling this deal to some other conservatives. Many House Republicans wanted much more substantive cuts to the budget.

But the agreement does clear a pathway for lawmakers to begin working to try to quickly draft and pass spending bills before the first of the government funding deadlines on Jan. 19.

Agriculture, energy, housing, and transportation programs, among others, are all slated to run out of funds on that date under the last stopgap government funding bill passed by Congress in the fall.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries claimed in a joint statement on Sunday that the agreement was a win for Democrats in that it keeps intact Biden's negotiations while side-stepping Republican objection.

"The bipartisan topline appropriations agreement clears the way for Congress to act over the next few weeks in order to maintain important funding priorities for the American people ... The framework agreement to proceed will enable the appropriators to address many of the major challenges America faces at home and abroad," Schumer and Jeffries said.

President Joe Biden on Sunday expressed support for the funding framework, saying in a statement that it "rejects deep cuts to programs hardworking families count on."

Biden also urged congressional Republicans to reach a deal on border funds and military aid for Israel and Ukraine, issues that remain tied up in Washington as conservatives push for major immigration policy changes.

Lawmakers will have to work quickly if they hope to strike a deal in time to stop the latest government shutdown.

Johnson wrote in his letter that he will fight for key policy riders that Republicans want. But Schumer and Jeffries in their statement said they've made clear to the speaker that they will oppose such "poison pill policy changes."

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on her chamber's appropriations committee, said in a statement on Sunday that "we cannot afford to delay further, so I will be working with my colleagues around the clock in the coming days to prevent a needless shutdown and pass bipartisan spending bills free of partisan poison pills that protect key investments and help meet the challenges our constituents are facing."

ABC News' Fritz Farrow contributed to this report.