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Topline Spending Deal Raises Hopes of Averting Gov’t Shutdown

A deal on topline spending figures that must still be parceled into individual bills for USDA and other departments has raised hopes of averting the first of two government shutdown deadlines.

The deal largely gives Democrats the domestic and defense spending levels President Biden and former House Speaker McCarthy agreed to last spring to suspend the debt ceiling. But it also gives Republicans $20 billion in accelerated IRS cuts plus pandemic aid claw-backs and is $30 billion less overall than Senate spending bills.

House Speaker Mike Johnson stressed in a speech last year, the need for cuts. He said, “We have to bring relief to the American people by reining in federal spending and bringing down inflation.”

That included USDA, which House Appropriators pared by more than $7 billion and replaced with pandemic savings, but that ultimately failed over an abortion rider and cuts to farm and food programs. House ultra-conservatives call the new deal a “total failure” and could force Johnson to again rely on Democrat votes, which cost his predecessor his job.

But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer rejects conservative demands, including “poison pill” riders, and insists as he did earlier, there’s only one solution. He says, “We prevented in both September and November the government from shutting down. And in each case, the key word was bipartisanship. We can’t do any of these things without both parties cooperating. And I urge Speaker Johnson to understand that, as we approach the January 19th deadline.”

Lawmakers now have just ten days to write USDA and other spending bills to carry out the latest deal. After that, they face a February 2nd deadline for remaining bills, including funding the Pentagon.

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