Democrats Warn That Congress Is Still Heading Toward a Shutdown Despite Agreement on Budget

Democrats warn that Congress is still facing the threat of a shutdown at the end of the year, despite an agreement on the Federal budget. The agreement earlier this month between House Republicans and the Democrats was supposed to create a bipartisan framework for annual spending bills that would take a government shutdown off the table. Congress may have avoided a federal default by voting to lift the debt ceiling two weeks ago, but another clash is expected in September when lawmakers must avert a government shutdown. House Republicans are currently pushing appropriations bills that are below the levels to which President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed in their deal, reported Government Executive. McCarthy is under pressure from conservatives in his own caucus, who are angry at the generous concessions made out to the White House and the Democrats over the debt ceiling deal. Democrats say this will lead to a second battle in Congress that may again risk a funding lapse this fall. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told Republicans to stick to the promises they made during the debt limit and budget negotiations. “We made a deal, and we will uphold our end of this deal,” said Jean-Pierre said, “and so they need to uphold theirs.” House Conservatives Demand Concessions After Debt Ceiling Agreement Pressure from conservatives has forced House Republican appropriators to begin writing spending bills for Fiscal Year 2023 at levels below the threshold achieved in the debt ceiling pact between McCarthy and Biden. The House Speaker has made it clear to his fellow Republicans that he will not allow lawmakers to put a flood of individual appropriations bills into a single omnibus bill and wants the House to consider each of the twelve spending bills one by one to avert a shutdown. It may be tough for the House Republicans to pull that off since both chambers of Congress must find a common agreement to pass the omnibus bill by October 1. Current funding is set to expire on Sept. 30, leaving open the possibility for a shutdown in the fall. Although the deadline is three and a half months away, the debate over the federal budget is expected to be contentious. McCarthy has yet to say whether he would agree to the House approving what are known as “minibusses,” which are any batch of appropriations bills that comprise all twelve spending proposals. A minibus might include a group of any number of bills and is smaller than a standard omnibus package. Battle Brewing Over Department of Agriculture Funding Accusations by Democrats came to a head on June 13 at a markup of an Agriculture Department fiscal 2024 funding bill, during which Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee approved a measure that would revert spending to fiscal 2022 levels. The GOP-dominated committee ignored the Fiscal Responsibility Act’s spending caps, which would essentially freeze government-wide spending at current amounts. “The Fiscal Responsibility Act set a top-line spending cap—a ceiling, not a floor—for fiscal year 2024 bills,” said Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the chairwoman of the appropriations panel. “That is why I will use this opportunity to mark up appropriations bills that limit new spending to the fiscal year 2022 top-line level,” she said. House Republicans are likely to approve $115 billion in cutbacks of unspent previously approved funding, which includes nearly $8 billion from Agriculture and will reduce total government spending by 1 percent. Granger defended her decision to push bills below the Fiscal Responsibility Act level, which House GOP conservatives has already promised, both before and after the debt ceiling agreement was reached. The bill proposals will use the funding “we already have,” she said on June 14, and redirect for a vote in the House. Republicans on the committee noted that the spending bill cuts would deny the Biden administration’s request for funding to hire 4,700 new employees at Agriculture. Biden previously warned that the level of cuts that House Republicans were seeking would cause tens of thousands of federal employees to face furloughs and potential layoffs, which would please many conservatives. Democrats Accuse House Republicans Of Backing Out Of Agreement Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the ranking Democrat on the committee, objected to the cutbacks, accusing Republican leadership of undermining a deal that it had just negotiated. “Despite the debt ceiling agreement providing an insufficient but workable top line, you are completely ignoring it,” DeLauro said. “Instead, almost every domestic bill will get a woefully smaller allocation.” She claimed that Republicans were using the appropriations bill to push dramatic spending cuts and reduce their influence on a final funding package. “No one who has an even basic understanding of how our process works thinks this house of cards will not get blown

Democrats Warn That Congress Is Still Heading Toward a Shutdown Despite Agreement on Budget

Democrats warn that Congress is still facing the threat of a shutdown at the end of the year, despite an agreement on the Federal budget.

The agreement earlier this month between House Republicans and the Democrats was supposed to create a bipartisan framework for annual spending bills that would take a government shutdown off the table.

Congress may have avoided a federal default by voting to lift the debt ceiling two weeks ago, but another clash is expected in September when lawmakers must avert a government shutdown.

House Republicans are currently pushing appropriations bills that are below the levels to which President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed in their deal, reported Government Executive.

McCarthy is under pressure from conservatives in his own caucus, who are angry at the generous concessions made out to the White House and the Democrats over the debt ceiling deal.

Democrats say this will lead to a second battle in Congress that may again risk a funding lapse this fall.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told Republicans to stick to the promises they made during the debt limit and budget negotiations.

“We made a deal, and we will uphold our end of this deal,” said Jean-Pierre said, “and so they need to uphold theirs.”

House Conservatives Demand Concessions After Debt Ceiling Agreement

Pressure from conservatives has forced House Republican appropriators to begin writing spending bills for Fiscal Year 2023 at levels below the threshold achieved in the debt ceiling pact between McCarthy and Biden.

The House Speaker has made it clear to his fellow Republicans that he will not allow lawmakers to put a flood of individual appropriations bills into a single omnibus bill and wants the House to consider each of the twelve spending bills one by one to avert a shutdown.

It may be tough for the House Republicans to pull that off since both chambers of Congress must find a common agreement to pass the omnibus bill by October 1.

Current funding is set to expire on Sept. 30, leaving open the possibility for a shutdown in the fall.

Although the deadline is three and a half months away, the debate over the federal budget is expected to be contentious.

McCarthy has yet to say whether he would agree to the House approving what are known as “minibusses,” which are any batch of appropriations bills that comprise all twelve spending proposals.

A minibus might include a group of any number of bills and is smaller than a standard omnibus package.

Battle Brewing Over Department of Agriculture Funding

Accusations by Democrats came to a head on June 13 at a markup of an Agriculture Department fiscal 2024 funding bill, during which Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee approved a measure that would revert spending to fiscal 2022 levels.

The GOP-dominated committee ignored the Fiscal Responsibility Act’s spending caps, which would essentially freeze government-wide spending at current amounts.

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act set a top-line spending cap—a ceiling, not a floor—for fiscal year 2024 bills,” said Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the chairwoman of the appropriations panel.

“That is why I will use this opportunity to mark up appropriations bills that limit new spending to the fiscal year 2022 top-line level,” she said.

House Republicans are likely to approve $115 billion in cutbacks of unspent previously approved funding, which includes nearly $8 billion from Agriculture and will reduce total government spending by 1 percent.

Granger defended her decision to push bills below the Fiscal Responsibility Act level, which House GOP conservatives has already promised, both before and after the debt ceiling agreement was reached.

The bill proposals will use the funding “we already have,” she said on June 14, and redirect for a vote in the House.

Republicans on the committee noted that the spending bill cuts would deny the Biden administration’s request for funding to hire 4,700 new employees at Agriculture.

Biden previously warned that the level of cuts that House Republicans were seeking would cause tens of thousands of federal employees to face furloughs and potential layoffs, which would please many conservatives.

Democrats Accuse House Republicans Of Backing Out Of Agreement

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the ranking Democrat on the committee, objected to the cutbacks, accusing Republican leadership of undermining a deal that it had just negotiated.

“Despite the debt ceiling agreement providing an insufficient but workable top line, you are completely ignoring it,” DeLauro said.

“Instead, almost every domestic bill will get a woefully smaller allocation.”

She claimed that Republicans were using the appropriations bill to push dramatic spending cuts and reduce their influence on a final funding package.

“No one who has an even basic understanding of how our process works thinks this house of cards will not get blown over the second we start a conference negotiation,” DeLauro said, referring to forthcoming negotiations with the Senate.

“Not only are you wasting everyone’s time and increasing the likelihood of a CR or shutdown, but you are using decisions that hurt your own constituents.”

DeLauro said a shutdown was the more likely outcome, saying, “If we disregard the law of the land, we all but guarantee a shutdown in October.”

The Senate, which will have to negotiate with the House over its own appropriations measures, has yet to release any proposed bills on the budget but is expected to do so in the coming weeks.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, stated that after the debt ceiling deal was passed, she was “focused now on keeping our appropriations process moving forward in the Senate.”

Murray said she was disappointed with House GOP spending caps and said she intended to “lessen the damage of these cuts at every opportunity.”

“I am deeply concerned about how this legislation will limit our ability now to make the investments we need to help families succeed, keep communities safe, and keep our country on the cutting edge,” said the senator.

However, the Fiscal Responsibility Act has a provision that would automatically avoid a shutdown by funding agencies at 1 percent less than their fiscal 2023 allocations, but the provision will not take effect until Jan. 1.

The current appropriations process will likely face more complications because funding levels for fiscal 2024 would only start matching current levels if Biden and Republican leaders agree to pass certain items into law.

If conservative Republicans decide to back out of those side deals, it could possibly heighten the risk of a shutdown in October.