With House speaker installed, US Congress returns to spending battles

With House speaker installed, US Congress returns to spending battles
With House speaker installed, US Congress returns to spending battles

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The morning after U.S. House of Representatives Republicans united round new Speaker Mike Johnson, lawmakers on Thursday returned their consideration to spending payments urgently wanted to avert a authorities shutdown and reply to crises abroad.

Congress has simply over three weeks till a stopgap measure to preserve federal businesses funded runs out on Nov. 17, and Democratic President can also be pushing for $106 billion in new spending to assist Israel and Ukraine, and beef up enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In the meantime, House Republicans are pushing for a full plate of 12 separate funding payments to preserve businesses working till Sept. 30, 2024, the tip of the fiscal 12 months. This uncommon feat requires shut negotiation between the narrowly Republican-controlled House and the Senate, which has a two-vote Democratic majority.

“We’re going to ship an aggressive schedule within the days and weeks forward,” Johnson instructed reporters on Wednesday, shortly after he was sworn in as speaker.

Fights over cash have occupied most of Congress’ time for the previous 12 months. Partisan disputes introduced the federal authorities to the brink of defaulting on its then-$31.4 trillion in debt in Might, an occasion that may have shaken the world monetary system.

Lower than a month in the past, intra-party preventing amongst Republicans introduced the federal authorities inside hours of a partial shutdown, with hardline Republicans rejecting a $1.59 trillion discretionary spending restrict Biden and Johnson’s predecessor Kevin McCarthy had agreed on, as an alternative calling for an extra $120 billion in cuts.

Since then, excessive rates of interest have pushed up the federal government’s price of borrowing and for the federal Social Safety and Medicare applications, driving Washington to a $1.7 trillion deficit for the fiscal 12 months ended Sept. 30.

Even the only steps – like arriving on the period of a short-term funding measure often known as a “persevering with decision” that lawmakers agree might be wanted to keep away from a shutdown subsequent month – have been sophisticated by this month’s vacant speakership.

“It is one thing we have now to negotiate with the House and that is tough for the time being,” Republican Senator John Kennedy, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, famous the day earlier than Johnson’s election.


The Senate, following lengthy delays imposed by a couple of Republicans, is shifting forward with three of its 12 bipartisan funding payments. By subsequent week it hopes to cross appropriations for farm applications, transportation and housing and veterans.

Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer desires to then pivot to contemplating the help cash for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan – and the stop-gap funding.

However the fiscal warfare between the Senate and conservative House Republicans that has raged since January is unlikely to finish quickly.

“Bipartisanship might be important for preserving the federal government open in lower than a month and bipartisanship might be important for passing the president’s nationwide safety request,” Schumer mentioned in a Senate speech.

Important adjustments by Congress to Biden’s request for assist to Ukraine and extra money for border safety have been anticipated.

Republican Consultant Tom Cole, a robust lawmaker who heads the gatekeeping committee for House laws, mentioned that “wedge” points – partisan priorities – would gradual the emergency spending bundle the White House is searching for.

“We want to have the option to reply rapidly and decisively within the form of instances we reside in proper now,” Cole mentioned. Requested what his recommendation to Johnson can be, he added, “do not overplay your hand.”

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Nanette Diaz Barragan mentioned in an interview that she doesn’t imagine cash focused to cities is sufficient to present shelter and different companies for immigrants being transported from the southwest border with Mexico to northern locations.

Republicans assault Biden’s border safety spending, saying it falls far quick in shutting down unlawful border crossings and the circulate of medicine reminiscent of fentanyl.

And much-right conservatives may demand deep cuts within the stop-gap invoice, as an alternative of merely extending present spending ranges.

Senate appropriators from the 2 events had various expectations.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin pressured the necessity for beefed-up border safety.

“It is the one method you may go house and clarify to folks” additionally voting for assist to Ukraine and Israel, mentioned Manchin, who’s mulling whether or not to run for re-election in West Virginia, which is now closely Republican.

Senator Kennedy, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee with Manchin, was upbeat, saying fast progress on extra of these 12 payments was doable in coming weeks.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Modifying by Scott Malone and Richard Chang)

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