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NEWS | Congress Spending Debate Continues

Shutdowns harm small business. NSBA urges Congress to compromise on a spending plan.


Over the weekend, Congressional leaders announced that they had taken an important first step in paving the way to funding the government and averting a looming shutdown. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told lawmakers on Sunday that they had reached agreement on an overall “topline” number for a funding package of $1.59 trillion. While this agreement does come with short-term funding guarantees for several agencies, crucially it also does not prohibit the attachment of “policy riders” designed to implement political priorities. In this compromise both Republicans and Democrats have scored something important, though Speaker Johnson is still likely to face headwinds in the increasingly conservative House Republican Conference. Critically, now the job of crafting the individual bills to meet that $1.59 trillion threshold can begin in earnest.

 

However, despite the progress Johnson and Schumer have made, there is still trouble on the horizon. In protest of Johnson’s dealmaking, on Wednesday, 13 conservative House Republicans voted with Democrats against passing a rule for consideration of a number of bills this week (a vote on a rule is a simple procedural motion that allows the House to outline the specific process under which bills will be considered). Rarely is a rule not passed, and Johnson’s speakership may be in peril as the intractable challenges of governing a fractious party with a wide ideological span that sank former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) rise again.  

 

As a reminder, the current continuing resolution (also called a CR) bifurcated the funding deadlines as follows:

 

January 19, 2024, Expiration:

  1. Agriculture and FDA,

  2. Energy and Water,

  3. Military Construction and the VA, and

  4. Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

February 2, 2024, Expiration:

  1. Commerce, Justice, & Science,

  2. Defense,

  3. Financial Services and General Government,

  4. Department of Homeland Security,

  5. Department of the Interior and Environment,

  6. Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Department of Education,

  7. Legislative Branch, and

  8. State and Foreign Operations.

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