Speaker Johnson Announces $1.66 Trillion Bipartisan Package To Avert Shutdown

House Speaker Mike Johnson told colleagues on Sunday that Congressional negotiators have reached a topline spending figure to avert a federal government shutdown on Jan. 19 for some government agencies, and Feb. 2 for others.

According to a Sunday "Dear Colleague" letter, the topline deal - which mostly adheres to a deal reached between the White House and former speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), limits discretionary spending to $1.66 trillion overall. It also secures $16 billion in additional spending cuts vs. the McCarthy deal, and is around $30 billion less than what Senate Democrats wanted.

"This represents the most favorable budget agreement Republicans have achieved in over a decade," wrote Johnson, adding "As has been widely reported, a list of extra-statutory adjustments was agreed upon by negotiators last summer. The agreement today achieves key modifications to the June framework that will secure more than $16 billion in additional spending cuts to offset the discretionary spending levels."

Breaking it down, the deal sets aside $886.3 billion for defense spending, $772.7 billion in domestic discretionary spending, and rescinds $6.1 billion in coronavirus emergency spending authority. The deal also accelerates $20 billion in cuts from the $80 billion IRS funding allocated under the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.

"The bipartisan funding framework congressional leaders have reached moves us one step closer to preventing a needless government shutdown and protecting important national priorities," President Biden's staff said in a statement assigned to the 81-year-old. "It reflects the funding levels that I negotiated with both parties and signed into law last spring. It rejects deep cuts to programs hard-working 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."

House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries issued a statement in support of the new 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," the pair 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."

Let's see if this sticks...

Johnson and the Democrats' biggest challenge will be House conservatives, who have opposed earlier debt ceiling agreements over a lack of spending offsets.

That said, this agreement is separate from funding for Israel and Ukraine - a growing sticking point among some Republicans.

As Mike Shedlock from MishTalk.com noted on Saturday, many problems remain.

What’s the Real Deadline?

January 19 is less than two weeks away. The real deadline is allegedly February 3.

Since Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is not incessantly yapping over this, I suspect the real deadline is further away.

Republicans can always punt with another “temporary” and “clean” continuing resolution. And that would not surprise me in the least. It would buy everyone time to avoid budget cuts that would kick in on April 30.

But eventually, it will come down to my long-stated beliefs, expressed below.

Expect More of This for More of That

The Republican hard-line House Freedom Caucus won’t accomplish anything because there is not enough of them and they are not even united on what they want.

Some want funding for Israel but that is conveniently lumped with funding for Ukraine which they generally don’t want.

H.R.2 is a nonstarter. As a result, there will be some Republican holdouts who will not vote for whatever Speaker Mike Johnson concocts with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

If any bill passes in the House, it will be with Democrat support. The Freedom Caucus will howl.

The only question is how big this final boondoggle is.

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