Washington Examiner

Senate panel readies funding bills, spending showdown imminent.

Senate Democrats Prepare for Battle with House Republicans over Government Funding

Senate Democrats on the powerful Appropriations panel are gearing up for a showdown with House Republicans this week. The Democrats are preparing to mark up government funding bills, while their counterparts in the House are pushing for significant spending reductions for the upcoming fiscal year.

Key negotiators on the Senate committee, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), are expected to establish topline numbers for each of the 12 appropriations bills on Thursday. They will use the spending levels set in the debt ceiling bill. Additionally, Murray and Collins plan to consider funding for subcommittees and mark up bills for the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Agriculture subcommittees.

“We have an obligation as Members of Congress to work together to write and pass funding bills in a timely way that address key challenges our nation faces, and we are determined to ensure the Senate’s voice is heard in this process.”

The action in the Senate sets the stage for a clash with House Republicans, who recently adopted government spending levels for the next fiscal year below the levels agreed upon by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Joe Biden in debt ceiling discussions. This clash between the two chambers could potentially lead to a government shutdown.

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to adopt discretionary spending levels at $1.47 trillion for fiscal year 2024, which is $120 billion below the initially negotiated amount. The plan includes cuts to public assistance and foreign aid, while increasing spending for drug enforcement, border security, and efforts to counter China.

Despite the pressure from his right flank, McCarthy defended the spending levels, stating that the debt ceiling bill only set a ceiling, not a floor, for fiscal year 2024 bills. Republicans in the House argue that their spending levels are responsible and in line with the debt ceiling deal.

“The allocations before us reflect the change members on my side of the aisle want to see.”

The pursuit of more non-defense spending cuts sparked intense debate in a House hearing, with Republicans supporting the move as a way to curb spending and Democrats accusing them of breaking their word and disregarding the agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) signaled that House Republicans will face challenges in extracting additional concessions as Senate appropriators work on their budgets. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) downplayed the expected differences between the House and Senate bills, stating that they will ultimately have to work it out.

Senators from both parties are brushing off concerns about a potential government shutdown, with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) stating that the group causing trouble for McCarthy is irrelevant when it comes to passing appropriations bills.

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