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Negotiations on credits are at a standstill

Negotiations among congressional leaders over spending limits for the 2024 budget appropriations are moving at a glacial pace, according to sources familiar with the discussions, casting doubt on lawmakers’ ability to pass final bills early in the year. next year without any further interim spending measures.

As staff meetings among executive aides continue, Chairman Mike Johnson, R-La., and his team have not indicated they would readily agree to the funding levels set in the state cap negotiations. debt that the other three leaders supported. .

This basic agreement is essential in the next two weeks to give donors the time they need to craft the full year’s spending bills before the next deadline, Jan. 19, according to veterans of the credit allocation process.

Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee are preparing for a possible deal and working on what they can without a deal. For example, aides document differences between the House and Senate versions of appropriations bills that will need to be addressed during negotiations.

But the longer time passes without an agreement being reached, the more likely it is that another interim financing measure will be adopted. However, Johnson says House Republicans will not support a new round of spending in the near term, which will require an agreement on spending levels this month. Without a deal, Johnson threatened to introduce a year-long continuing resolution that would cut nondefense spending.

Another factor in the slow pace of spending negotiations is that they have taken a backseat to final negotiations on the fiscal 2024 defense authorization bill, sources said. The leaders of the Armed Services committees are expected to unveil their report from the NDAA conference this week, and the Senate will likely vote on it first.

Some sources point the finger at Johnson and his team for not coming to the table to work out a budget appropriations deal. A spokesperson for Johnson said the speaker was working on the NDAA and appropriations processes simultaneously.

“Fighting for defense policy victories and changing Washington’s approach to spending both remain top priorities for the President and leaders,” the spokesperson said.

Additionally, eliminating the NDAA first could serve to lock lawmakers into the $886 billion security-related budget that both chambers’ bills would authorize, a 3 percent annual increase, under the law. on the debt ceiling this spring.

While both chambers recorded bipartisan majorities in favor of this increase in defense spending, it could strengthen GOP leaders’ ability to bring down the entire non-defense sector, at least outside of Veterans Affairs departments. and Homeland Security. Otherwise, it could mean exceeding the total discretionary spending cap of $1.59 trillion for fiscal year 2024 in the Debt Ceiling Act.

This law provides a non-defense cap of $704 billion for fiscal year 2024 – on paper, a 5% reduction, or $40 billion. But a “side deal” that President Joe Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., agreed to called for eliminating that reduction through various accounting maneuvers and maintaining domestic and foreign aid accounts essentially flat financed.

Johnson was not a party to this side deal, however, and now conservatives led by the House Freedom Caucus are pushing him to ignore it.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats and Republicans previously agreed to the debt ceiling deal’s numbers, both in text and in the side deal, while adding nearly $14 billion to for good measure, including 8 billion more for defense.

Seven weeks left

Funding for agencies covered by four of the twelve bills expires on January 19, while the remaining eight bills are funded through February 2 under the most recent continuing resolution.

Both chambers have spent time this year advancing their own appropriations bills to set up these final negotiations. However, neither chamber has scheduled floor time this week to consider the appropriations bills.

House Republicans have passed seven of the 12 bills, and party leaders continue to work with the GOP conference to resolve issues that have stalled the remaining five bills, sources said. This is another issue that has taken time to reach bicameral, bipartisan agreement.

But serious policy and spending differences during the conference have thwarted previous attempts to pass these five bills, and it will be an uphill battle for Republicans to get them across the finish line. more of these bills.

The five bills the House did not pass are the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services, Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-HUD measures.

The Senate passed a package of three of his bills, the Agriculture, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD measures. These are the three bills which expire in January, with that of Energy-Water.

But despite pressure from Maine Republican Rep. Susan Collins for Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer to introduce another package in December, there is no indication that Schumer will do so. For now, Schumer, D-N.Y. and his party are focused on Biden’s additional $106 billion emergency package for the wars in Israel and Ukraine, among other goals, which itself has been blocked due to a partisan dispute over border policy .

The House’s last scheduled day in session this year is December 14; the Senate meeting will take place the next day, although Schumer has threatened to keep the chamber in session longer in order to pass the additional legislation.

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