House Republicans agree on non-defense spending cuts but face Senate obstacle

House Republicans agree on non-defense spending cuts but face Senate obstacle

House Republicans have reached a consensus on cutting non-defense spending, but they face significant challenges in the Senate. The agreement among House Republicans aims to reduce spending by as much as 27 percent from most non-defense programs. This move is part of a broader effort to extend current federal funding levels through November 17, avoiding a partial government shutdown that would begin with the new fiscal year on October 1.

The Senate has introduced a stopgap measure that would extend current federal funding levels and provide emergency aid to Ukraine and natural disaster victims. If passed by both chambers and signed by President Joe Biden, this measure would prevent a government shutdown. However, the inclusion of aid to Ukraine and disaster relief has sparked controversy among Republicans, making the passage of the continuing resolution uncertain.

The draft Senate legislation, which will be attached to a House-passed Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, aims to give lawmakers an additional seven weeks to complete full-year fiscal 2024 appropriations. Key provisions of the bipartisan Senate-authored package include:

– Extension of current government appropriations rates through November 17, with certain exceptions known as “anomalies” that allow for higher spending rates in specific circumstances.
– $6.15 billion in total aid to Ukraine, including $4.5 billion in military assistance and $1.65 billion in economic aid. This is significantly less than the $24 billion sought by the White House.
– $6 billion to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, short of the $16 billion the administration wanted.
– A fix to prevent steep cuts in pay for wildland firefighters next month.
– A three-month extension of expiring Federal Aviation Administration spending and revenue collection authorities.
– Extension of expiring National Flood Insurance Program authority through the duration of the continuing resolution.
– A renewal of economic assistance to Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
– Five-year extensions of certain Food and Drug Administration user fee programs.
– Extensions through the life of the stopgap bill for lapsing community health centers funding and a delay in Medicaid cuts affecting hospitals that serve a large proportion of low-income patients.
– An anomaly enabling the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children to spend at a faster rate to ensure no disruption in benefits.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer emphasized that the measure reflects a compromise on various issues, including Ukraine aid and disaster relief. “While for sure this bill does not have everything either side wants, it will continue to fund the government at present levels while maintaining our commitment to Ukraine’s security and humanitarian needs, while also ensuring those impacted by natural disasters across the country begin to get the resources they need,” Schumer said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged support for a continuing resolution that maintains “essential government functions at their current rates of operation.” He emphasized that shutdowns “don’t work as political bargaining chips.”

However, some Senate Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Rick Scott, have expressed opposition to the inclusion of Ukraine aid and the amount of disaster relief funding. Sen. J.D. Vance warned that the inclusion of Ukraine aid could derail the bill in the House, setting up a “horrible, horrible showdown.”

Even if the Senate passes the stopgap measure, it faces significant obstacles in the House. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has not committed to taking up a Senate-passed bill and appears determined to attach measures designed to strengthen security at the southern border. McCarthy also plans to bring a GOP-backed continuing resolution to the House floor, but he has so far lacked the votes to take it up. A group of up to 10 hard-line conservatives has pledged opposition to any stopgap measure.

If McCarthy agrees to put a bipartisan stopgap measure on the floor, he risks a “motion to vacate” from hard-liners who have pledged to try to oust him from his position. The situation remains fluid, and the outcome is uncertain as both chambers work to avoid a government shutdown.

Source: CQ Roll Call, NBC News

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