(Bloomberg) — Top US lawmakers announced that they broke a deadlock on spending levels for US government programs, putting Congress on track to complete a $1.7 trillion fiscal 2023 spending package before the end of December.
House and Senate appropriators didn’t provide any details of the deal, but said it would allow them to pass a full-year spending package by Dec. 23.
Before the announcement, Democrats and Republicans were $26 billion apart on how much to spend on domestic agencies. Both sides were largely in agreement on $858 billion in spending for defense.
“We have a framework that provides a path forward to enact an omnibus next week,” House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro said in a statement Tuesday. “Now, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will work around the clock to negotiate the details of final 2023 spending bills that can be supported by the House and Senate and receive President Biden’s signature.”
Top Senate Republican negotiator, Richard Shelby of Alabama and top Senate Democratic negotiator Patrick Leahy also were part of the framework agreement.
While the deal does not guarantee that Congress will complete the funding package for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, it does remove the biggest obstacle. House Democrats have a bare minimum 218 vote majority and can afford to lose just two of their members on any party-line vote.
House Republicans are poised to oppose the spending bill en masse after their leader Kevin McCarthy announced this week he is a firm no on any funding package. McCarthy and his allies want Congress to wait on final funding decisions until Republicans take over the House on Jan. 3.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell defended the emerging deal, arguing that the GOP will get the defense boost it wants without funding domestic priorities above what President Joe Biden had requested for the year in his budget proposal. He noted that that Republicans are in the minority in the Senate.
“It’s far and away the best we can do given that we don’t control the government,” he said earlier in the day.
Congress is now expected to approve a one-week stopgap spending bill this week to extend the funding deadline from Dec. 16 to Dec. 23. The top—line agreement will allow lawmakers to spend the coming week hashing out specific spending levels for each federal agency as well as what additional legislative items they will attach to the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday he expects the legislation will include aid for Ukraine as well as a bipartisan bill raising the bar for challenging presidential election results.
Lawmakers are pessimistic that a package of business tax breaks, including one for research and development, can hitch a ride on the giant spending bill. Democrats continue to insist on any tax provisions include expanding the child tax credit. DeLauro said that she is adamant any renewal of business tax breaks be accompanied by aid for children.
It also looks doubtful that a proposal by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to change energy permitting regulations will be attached to the bill because of Republican opposition.
A measure opening up the banking system to marijuana transactions also is not likely to make it into the package, GOP Senator John Thune said.