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Johnson, Schumer summoned to White House as Congress barrels toward deadline to avoid shutdown

Congress has to pass another spending bill by Friday to again prevent a partial government shutdown, but leaders of both chambers still disagree on proper spending levels.

Published: February 26, 2024 11:00pm

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have been summoned to the White House for a meeting on Tuesday as Congress barrels toward a Friday deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the "first set of appropriations bills are scheduled to expire -- Agriculture, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD -- under the third continuing resolution (CR) that was enacted in January under the 'laddered' approach that began earlier in the fiscal year."

The second set of appropriations bills passed will expire on March 8, including, "Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Financial Services-General Government, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch, and State-Foreign Operations."

The budget watchdog group noted that Congress has so far not enacted a full-year appropriations bill. The CRFB has cautioned Congress to reduce federal spending and reform entitlement programs to control the nation's rising deficit and debt.

"We need a real plan to put the national debt on a downward sustainable path before it’s too late," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the CRFB.

The budget deficit is projected to grow from $1.6 trillion in fiscal year 2024 to $2.6 trillion in 2034 and the national debt will rise to 116% of the size of the entire U.S. economy, according to the Congressional Budget Office's 10-year budget outlook. 

Conservative Republicans are pushing Johnson to reduce domestic spending levels and attach border policy changes to whatever spending bill that the House considers for passage.

Schumer has said he wants Congress to pass a clean Continuing Resolution (CR) that extends current spending levels without any "poison pills" added inside the legislation. 

Last week, the conservative House Freedom Caucus outlined a series of contrasting policy reforms and spending reductions that they said should be considered as part of the spending bill.

"If we are not going to secure significant policy changes or even keep spending below the caps adopted by bipartisan majorities less than one year ago, why would we proceed when we could instead pass a year-long funding resolution that would save Americans $100 billion in year one?" the conservatives wrote.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Bob Good previously told Just the News that he wanted to see Johnson include the language of the Secure the Border Act, known as H.R. 2, as part of the spending bill. The border bill passed the House in May but Schumer hasn't allowed a vote on it in the Senate. 

A group of House Democrats wrote to Johnson on Friday, urging him not to risk a government shutdown with spending cuts and policy changes. "Clean funding bills – free of contentious poison pill riders that members of both parties oppose – represent the best path forward as we work to fulfill our duty to the American people to keep the federal government running," the group of Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter sent to Johnson, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

"We strongly believe Congress must appropriate adequate funding for non-defense discretionary programs. Enacting domestic spending levels below the $773 billion levels agreed by Speaker Johnson and Leader Schumer would threaten the health, safety, security, and economic well- being of our constituents," they wrote.

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