NOW: House, Senate Reach Deal

( – In an effort to avoid a potentially highly-damaging government shutdown later in January, the leaders of the US Senate and House of Representatives have struck a deal on topline spending levels for the 2024 fiscal year.

Congressional leaders have successfully reached a consensus on the spending limits for defense and domestic programs set in an earlier bill, which also suspended the debt limit until 2025, Fox News reports.

However, it makes certain concessions to House Republicans, who believed the spending restrictions in the previous agreement were not stringent enough.

In a communication to his colleagues, House Speaker Mike Johnson announced on Sunday that the agreement would enact $16 billion in additional spending reductions compared to the earlier deal made by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

Furthermore, the current agreement proposes about $30 billion less than the amount previously considered by the Senate.

“This represents the most favorable budget agreement Republicans have achieved in over a decade,” Johnson declared.

President Joe Biden expressed his approval of the agreement, viewing it as a step forward in averting a government shutdown and safeguarding crucial national priorities.

“[This deal] moves us one step closer to preventing a needless government shutdown and protecting important national priorities,” Biden said.

He highlighted that the agreement aligns with the funding levels negotiated and enacted last spring.

The president emphasized its refusal to impose severe cuts on programs vital to working families while paving the way for the passage of full-year funding bills devoid of extreme policies.

According to Johnson’s letter, the agreement expedites approximately $20 billion in cuts already agreed upon for the Internal Revenue Service and revokes about $6 billion in COVID relief funds that were authorized but remain unspent.

This agreement is crucial as it provides a foundation for lawmakers to craft detailed appropriations bills, specifying exact funding for various agencies, the report points out.

Some agency funding is due to expire on January 19, while others face a February 2 deadline.

The agreement also stands separate from ongoing negotiations aimed at securing additional funding for Israel and Ukraine, as well as addressing restrictions on asylum claims at the US border.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries jointly supported the agreement. Still, they said Democrats would oppose any controversial policy changes in the appropriations bills presented to Congress.