Congressional leaders have finally reached an agreement on the overall price tag of the next batch of government spending bills, lawmakers announced Sunday — a key step toward avoiding a partial shutdown starting later this month.
The deal would set top-line spending for fiscal year 2024 at $1.59 trillion, which was originally agreed to by President Joe Biden and then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during negotiations on the government's debt ceiling last year.
The framework also proposes maintaining the $886 billion agreed to in defense funding through fiscal year 2024 and the $704 billion in non-defense spending that Democrats insisted on during the debt ceiling negotiations.
Adoption of those figures allows lawmakers in the House and Senate to begin working on the text of individual spending bills — a point of contention on Capitol Hill, especially among House Republicans. Move the cost frame forward.
House Speaker Mike Johnson, who succeeded McCarthy, confirmed key details of the deal in a letter to his colleagues on Sunday afternoon.
Johnson touted the concessions Republicans won in the deal, including a $10 billion cut in funding for the IRS and the withdrawal of about $6 billion in remaining COVID-19 relief funds.
In his letter, Johnson acknowledged that “the final spending levels won't satisfy everyone, and they won't reduce spending as much as many of us would like,” but he noted that the deal would allow the funding process to move forward when it allows. Negotiators to “re-prioritize funding internally towards conservative objectives”.
However, the new speaker will face an uphill battle selling the deal to some other conservatives. Many House Republicans wanted more substantial cuts to the budget.
But the deal clears the way for lawmakers to begin an effort to quickly craft and pass spending bills ahead of a Jan. 19 government funding deadline.
Agriculture, energy, housing and transportation programs, among others, would run out of funding by that date under the last suspended government funding bill passed by Congress in the fall.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a joint statement Sunday that the deal was a victory for Democrats because it kept Biden's negotiations intact despite Republican objections.
“The bipartisan overhead appropriations deal clears the way for Congress to act in the next few weeks to maintain important funding priorities for the American people… The framework agreement to proceed will address the many key challenges America faces to funders, both domestically and abroad,” Schumer and Jeffries said.
Biden expressed support for the funding framework on Sunday, saying in a statement that it “rejects deep cuts to programs that hardworking families rely on.”
The president urged congressional Republicans to reach an agreement on border funding and military aid to Israel and Ukraine.
Lawmakers must act quickly if they hope to strike a deal in time to end the latest government shutdown.
In his letter, Johnson wrote that he will fight for key policy riders that Republicans want. But Schumer and Jeffries said in their statement that they made it clear to the speaker that they oppose such “poison pill policy changes.”
Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on her House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement Sunday: “We can't afford to delay any longer, so I will work around the clock in the coming days with my colleagues to prevent unnecessary shutdowns and partisan poison pills that protect vital investments and help meet the challenges our constituents face. Pass bipartisan spending bills without.”
ABC News' Fritz Farrow contributed to this report.