US Politics

Johnson strikes his first bipartisan deal — a $1.7T funding accord

Johnson strikes his first bipartisan deal — a $1.7T funding accord

Non-defense budgets would remain roughly flat, amounting to a less than 1 percent decrease compared to current funding. Military programs would see about a 3 percent increase.

In a letter to House lawmakers on Sunday, the speaker celebrated $16 billion in extra spending cuts he negotiated beyond the terms of the debt agreement, for a total of $30 billion less than Senate lawmakers sought in the funding bills they have drafted. The new funding accord is still far higher than fiscal conservatives have demanded, however, risking Johnson’s good standing among his House Republican conference and raising the specter of a government shutdown.

The speaker acknowledged in his letter that the funding levels “will not satisfy everyone, and they do not cut as much spending as many of us would like.” But he called the deal “the most favorable budget agreement Republicans have achieved in over a decade,” noting that the bipartisan accord will allow GOP lawmakers to put their mark on federal budgets, rather than running the government on the “Schumer-Pelosi” deal struck before Republicans claimed the House majority last year.

Lawmakers will have to work incredibly fast — federal cash for the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Energy, Veterans Affairs and more expires on Jan. 19. Funding for the rest of the government, including the biggest domestic programs and the Pentagon, runs out on Feb. 2. A shutdown remains very possible, with a host of thorny policy issues for congressional leaders to work through in extremely limited time, including conservative demands to attach GOP border reforms to spending legislation and Republican ultimatums holding up Biden’s separate request for more than $100 billion to aid Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Johnson also forecast partisan clashes in the coming weeks on policy issues like funding for abortion, saying in his letter that the agreement gives GOP leaders “a path” to “fight for the important policy riders” included in the funding bills House Republicans have drafted.

White House budget director Shalanda Young said GOP leaders have been “working in good faith to prevent a shutdown.” But she predicted Johnson is likely to face revolt within his conference, complicating endgame negotiations and increasing the odds of a funding lapse.

“So while I think leadership understands this is a bad path, the question is: Can they hold back the floodgates?” Young told reporters during an event hosted…

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