Leaders in the US Congress have reportedly finalized a deal on the total spending for the remainder of 2024 in an effort to avert a partial government shutdown, according to local media.
Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson disclosed that the agreed-upon figure is $1.6 trillion, encompassing $886 billion for defense and over $704 billion for non-defense expenditures.
Nevertheless, there appears to be some discrepancy regarding the numbers, and the deal awaits approval from both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The legislators have less than two weeks to secure funding and prevent the suspension of certain federal services.
Democrats Hakeem Jeffries and Chuck Schumer stated that the agreed non-defense spending amount is $772 billion, while Mr. Johnson acknowledged in a letter to colleagues that the funding may not satisfy everyone and does not reduce spending as much as some would prefer.
The deal includes enhanced protection against cuts to benefits and health, a provision insisted upon by Democrats.
The House Freedom Caucus, a conservative Republican group, criticized the agreement as a “total failure.” President Biden expressed that the deal brings the country closer to preventing a government shutdown and safeguarding crucial national priorities.
Negotiations are set to resume on Monday in Washington, and lawmakers have until January 19 to finalize funding for various programs, including transportation, housing, and energy.
Another round of annual funding, covering sectors such as defense, is set to expire on February 2.
The agreement on an overall amount of spending comes after the government in October secured a short-term deal to avoid a federal shutdown temporarily, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden minutes before the deadline.
Shutdowns normally happen when both chambers of Congress are unable to agree on the roughly 30% of federal spending they must approve before the start of each fiscal year on 1 October.
With Republicans holding a slim majority in the House and Democrats holding the Senate by a single seat, any funding measure needs buy-in from both parties.
Repeated efforts to pass spending bills in the House in recent months have been thwarted in recent weeks by rebel right-wing Republicans.
Meanwhile, an agreement has still not been reached on a separate bill which includes a further $50bn of military aid to Ukraine, as Congress continues to argue over migration policy at America’s southern border.
October’s short-term deal to prevent a shutdown excluded new aid for Kyiv in a blow for Democrats, for whom this was a key demand.
Some Republicans argue that any further funding would be detrimental to America’s interests.
Congress has so far approved more than $100bn (£78bn) in military, humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine since Russia began its full-scale invasion last year.
Negotiations are also continuing about providing further security aid to Israel as it seeks to eliminate Hamas following the 7 October attacks.
Spending deal reached as shutdown deadline looms was last modified: January 8th, 2024 by ABBStaff-Mayowa