HomePoliticsDebt deal behind them, lawmakers plunge into bitter spending fight - UnlistedNews

Debt deal behind them, lawmakers plunge into bitter spending fight – UnlistedNews

After narrowly avoiding a federal default, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-led Senate are now on a collision course over spending that could result in a government shutdown this year and automatic spending cuts early of 2025 with dire consequences for the Pentagon and a range of domestic programs.

Far-right Republicans whose votes will be needed to maintain government funding are demanding cuts that go well beyond what President Biden and President Kevin McCarthy agreed to in the bipartisan compromise they reached last month to suspend the tax ceiling. debt, but such reductions are all but sure not to make headlines in the Senate.

The looming gridlock threatens to further complicate an already extraordinarily difficult process, as top members of Congress try for the first time in years to pass individual spending bills to fund all parts of government in an orderly fashion. and avoid the usual end-of-year pileup. If they can’t, under the terms of the debt-limit agreement, the overall spending cuts will take effect in 2025, the worst-case scenario lawmakers from both parties want to avoid.

The clashes began this week, when House appropriators began considering their spending bills and, working to appease their ultra-conservative wing, said they intended to fund federal agencies below the levels that Biden and McCarthy they had agreed.

Democrats resisted, saying the measure would wreak havoc on the economy and the smooth running of the government.

“I fully intend to follow the dictates of what we passed in the Senate and the House and what the president signed,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and chair of the Appropriations Committee. “I’m putting them in their chaos box,” she said of the House Republicans.

The approach was particularly reckless, he added, given that many of the right-wing lawmakers were aiming to appease the reflexive vote against government spending bills anyway.

“I don’t think the country wants us to be there; they don’t want chaos,” said Ms Murray. “They don’t want a small minority of people dictating where our economy will go.”

Facing a rebellion by far-right Republicans over the debt limit deal, McCarthy and his leadership team stunned Democrats this week by setting appropriations for the 12 annual spending bills at 2022 levels, about $119 billion. less than the $1.59 trillion allowed in the agreement to raise the debt ceiling.

The lower spending levels, demanded by Freedom Caucus members who shuttered the House last week to register their anger over the debt limit deal, were pushed through the Appropriations Committee in a party-line vote on Thursday after hours of acrimony during which Democrats accused Republicans. to back out of the commitment.

“The ink is barely dry on the bipartisan budget deal, but we’re here to consider the Republican majority’s spending agenda that completely flouts commitments made less than two weeks ago,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the top Democrat. on assignments. Committee.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas and chair of the committee, said using the lower number would allow the House to “refocus government spending in line with Republican priorities.” Mr. McCarthy said that he viewed the spending caps set out in the agreement as simply a ceiling and that the House wanted to reduce spending.

“There is no limit to how low you can go,” he said, stating that Republicans wanted to show the public that they could “be more efficient in government, that we can save more for the hard-working taxpayer, that we can eliminate more waste from Washington.”

But the divergent approaches on either side of the Capitol by the two parties are sure to make passage of the spending bills extremely difficult. If the House and Senate bills are not passed and reconciled by October 1, it could lead to a government shutdown. And if individual bills don’t pass by the end of the year, an automatic 1 percent cut would take effect that defense hawks say would be devastating to the Pentagon and US support for the US military. Ukraine.

Given the options, those responsible for the spending bills in both chambers say they must go ahead.

“From my perspective, we in the Senate just have to proceed,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee. “I hope the House finds a way to reach a consensus.”

The four appropriations committee leaders, who for the first time are all women, have said from the start that they wanted to bring the 12 spending bills to the floor under “regular order” and avoid what has become an annual ritual. where congressional leaders meet in their suites to strike a last-minute deal that bundles hundreds of billions of dollars of spending into a take-it-or-leave-it package.

As part of the debt limit agreement, Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Majority Leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky and Minority Leader, released a statement pledging to “seek and facilitate plenary consideration” of spending bills. .

Leaders have avoided floor fights over spending bills in recent years because they are time-consuming and can force lawmakers into politically charged votes. But the practice has left many lawmakers complaining that they are being shut out of the most basic function of Congress, and committee heads say they want to end it.

“What most of us are trying to avoid is a giant end-of-year omnibus that excludes many of our rank and file members from having contributions,” Ms. Collins said. “It would be healthy for the dynamics of the Senate, good for our country, and better for federal programs and agencies if we do our job on time.”

For now, completing spending bills on a schedule that hasn’t met recently looms as an elusive goal with the House and Senate at loggerheads since the start of the extended review of spending bills. . But those in charge say they can’t give up.

“If we all said, ‘Oh, we can’t do anything, there could be a possible train wreck,’ then why are we here?” asked Mrs. Murray. “My job is to finish my bills, to do everything possible to get our bills through the Senate.”

The current turmoil, he said, may dissipate as the deadlines for action approach.

“I wouldn’t take the temperature of where we’re going to be in three months today,” Ms Murray warned. “We have a long way to go.”


Sara Marcus
Sara Marcushttps://unlistednews.com
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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