GOP Targets Fiscal Reduction, Potentially Prompting Shutdown
The Republican party in the US House of Representatives announced on Thursday new government spending targets for the fiscal year 2024, substantially lower than the levels negotiated by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden. This discrepancy between the House Republicans and the Democratic-led Senate implies an impending struggle that might risk another government shutdown.
Appropriations Committee Sets Lower Discretionary Spending Level
The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted 33-27 along party lines to establish a discretionary spending level of $1.47 trillion for the upcoming fiscal year commencing on October 1. This figure is significantly lower—approximately $120 billion—than the $1.59 trillion set out in the debt ceiling bill coordinated by Biden and McCarthy.
Impact of the New Budget Plan on Various Sectors
The proposed spending targets would uphold defense spending at the agreed $866 billion level detailed in the debt ceiling legislation. However, this budget plan would drastically cut spending for environmental protection, public assistance, and foreign aid while increasing allocation for border security, drug enforcement, and efforts to counter China.
Democrats and Republicans at Odds Over Spending
Democrats are pushing back against the lower spending levels, accusing the Republicans of backing out from the debt-ceiling agreement. On the contrary, Republicans insist that the deal merely set a spending limit, arguing that "The debt ceiling bill set a ceiling, not a floor, for the fiscal year 2024 bills," as put by Appropriations Committee chair Kay Granger.
Controversial Spending Bills Incite Further Debate
In the lead-up to October, Congress aims to pass 12 appropriations bills covering diverse areas from law enforcement to scientific research. In recent developments, the panel has approved a bill that reduces spending on agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration by 30% from current levels. Moreover, Republicans presented another bill for energy and water development, which Democrats criticized for slashing spending on domestic programs, such as green energy incentives, by 22%.
Implications of Lower Spending Levels and Potential Shutdown
The lower spending levels, if upheld, may make it increasingly difficult for the House to reach an agreement with the Democratic-led Senate. This discrepancy could lead to a shutdown of federal agencies if a consensus on spending levels is not reached by October. As Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro commented, "They're moving toward a shutdown. That's what they seem to want to guarantee." Republican Representative Steve Womack echoed the concern, admitting, "I worry about what's going to happen on October 1."