Breakthrough in Government Funding of $1.59 Trillion Could Prevent Shutdown

House and Senate leaders announced an agreement Sunday for overall funding levels — the first step to averting a looming government shutdown this month.

Congressional sources told CNN that House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have signed off on a dollar figure for overall federal spending this fiscal year.

Though agreement on funding levels would lessen chances of a shutdown, major hurdles facing Congress remain ahead of two funding deadlines: Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, CNN noted.

According to CNN, a major roadblock is how to deal with GOP lawmakers’ demands to use the funding bill as leverage to impose stricter immigration and border security demands.

Congress still has to approve funding bills — or a stop-gap resolution to avoid a shutdown by the deadlines, CNN noted, adding it remains unclear how that effort will go even with a deal on funding levels.

The agreement largely hues to spending caps for defense and domestic programs that Congress set as part of a bill to suspend the debt limit until 2025. But it does provide some concessions to House Republicans who viewed the spending restrictions in that agreement as insufficient.

In a letter to colleagues, Speaker Johnson said Sunday it will secure $16 billion in additional spending cuts from the previous agreement brokered by then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden and is about $30 billion less than what the Senate was considering.

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

Biden said the agreement “moves us one step closer to preventing a needless government shutdown and protecting important national priorities.”

“It reflects the funding levels that I negotiated with both parties and signed into law last spring. It rejects deep cuts to programs hardworking families count on, and provides a path to passing full-year funding bills that deliver for the American people and are free of any extreme policies,” Biden said in a statement.

The agreement speeds up the roughly $20 billion in cuts already agreed to for the Internal Revenue Service and rescinds about $6 billion in COVID relief funds that had been approved but not yet spent, according to Johnson’s letter.

Lawmakers needed an agreement on overall spending levels so that appropriators could write the bills that set line-by-line funding for agencies. Funding is set to lapse Jan. 19 for some agencies and Feb. 2 for others.

The agreement is separate from the negotiations that are taking place to secure additional funding for Israel and Ukraine while also curbing restrictions on asylum claims at the U.S. border.

In a joint statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries also voiced their support for the agreement.

“It will also allow us to keep the investments for hardworking American families secured by the legislative achievements of President Biden and Congressional Democrats,” Schumer and Jeffries said. “Finally, we have made clear to Speaker Mike Johnson that Democrats will not support including poison pill policy changes in any of the twelve appropriations bills put before the Congress.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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