Towards the conclusion of the previous year, legislators reached a consensus that averted a government shutdown. The Continuing Resolution essentially maintained government operations but postponed addressing the underlying issues until the start of the new year. As the current year unfolds, Congress is faced with the task of approving another expenditure bill. However, a dispute over immigration poses a significant obstacle to the smooth passage of crucial spending legislation.
In the previous year, the administration of President Joe Biden urged Congress to approve a supplementary funding proposal exceeding $100 billion. This financial package aimed to provide additional assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and enhance domestic border security.
Republicans in both the House and the Senate are reluctant to support the funding package unless the president commits to implementing more stringent immigration policies to control the influx of migrants entering the United States, a number surpassing 300,000 in December.
As Congress resumes its session, there is uncertainty regarding whether lawmakers will promptly address this issue. In light of this, certain conservatives are indicating their willingness to disrupt the impending government spending deadlines as a strategy to compel President Biden to implement more stringent border policies.
During an interview on January 4th, Senator Roger Marshall stated, “All options are on the table.”
He expressed irony in the fact that legislators find themselves in the position of appealing to the President of the United States to enhance border security, and they may need to consider sacrificing Ukrainian aid or taking action regarding the spending package.
On January 7th, the House and Senate leaders declared that they had reached an accord for the 2024 spending. As reported by The Hill, the fresh agreement sets a spending cap at the levels observed in the preceding year. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) specified that the topline spending for fiscal year 2024 is $1.590 trillion. The arrangement allocates $886 billion for defense and $704 billion for nondefense, as outlined by the speaker.
Johnson mentioned that Republicans will persist in seeking policy riders aimed at diversity initiatives and abortion. Additionally, he responded to apprehensions from far-right Conservatives, asserting that the new agreement ensures approximately $16 billion in new spending reductions.
He acknowledged that the spending levels might not meet everyone’s expectations and fall short of the desired cuts by Republicans. However, he emphasized that they have established a process to advance and move forward.
The spending bills await approval through votes in both the House and Senate. There is a possibility that lawmakers may delay the process, holding out for immigration alterations and potentially leading to a government shutdown, although it’s uncertain at this point. The initial spending deadline is scheduled for January 19.