Speaker Pledges Republican Unity Amid Budget Negotiations
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Speaker Mike Johnson insisted the House Republican caucus would unite during government funding negotiations with senators.
The Republican leadership in the House and Senate Democratic leaders plan to debate fiscal 2024 funding policy over the next several weeks. Central to those negotiations will be immigration policy as well as myriad social programs.
A partial government shutdown was averted after the enactment of a short-term funding measure by President Joe Biden on Nov. 16 — a day before government funding authority was set to expire. Under the terms of the continuing resolution, funding authority for transportation programs and other agencies expires Jan. 19. (Funding for the Pentagon and the remaining federal government agencies expires Feb. 2.)
“We’re fighting. But you have to be wise about choosing the fights,” Johnson (R-La.) told reporters on Capitol Hill shortly after the chamber’s bipartisan approval of the short-term funding bill. “You gotta fight fights that you can win. And we’re going to. And you’re going to see this House majority stand together on our principle, and we’re going to do that. ... Look, it took decades to get into this mess. I’ve been at the job less than three weeks.” The House voted 336 to 95 on the continuing resolution.
Johnson went on, “This was a very important first step to get us to the next stage so we can change how Washington works.”
Following the Thanksgiving recess, the House and the Senate resume legislative work the week of Nov. 27. In addition to fiscal 2024 funding proposals, congressional leaders plan to debate the White House’s emergency funding request for overseas conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Lawmakers also will look to finalize before the end of the year consideration of the annual defense policy bill. The comprehensive military measure is known as the National Defense Authorization Act. As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) put it, “I know that both sides genuinely care about providing aid to Israel and Ukraine and helping innocent civilians in Gaza — so I hope we can come to an agreement, even if neither side gets everything they insist on.”
“We will also complete our work on the National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the year,” Schumer said Nov. 15, soon after the Senate voted 87 to 11 to clear the House-passed funding measure.
Shortly before passing the continuing resolution, the Democrat-led Senate had advanced its fiscal 2024 transportation appropriations bill. That measure would provide $98.9 billion for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. It would dedicate $20.2 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, $16.8 billion for the Federal Transit Administration and $3.4 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration. The Senate bill also would provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration with nearly $1 billion for fiscal 2024.
House Republican leaders have yet to advance their version of the fiscal 2024 transportation bill. The House’s $90.2 billion legislation would dedicate nearly $1 billion for FMCSA. It would provide $19.5 billion for FAA, $14.6 billion for FTA, $1.4 billion for FRA and $1.2 billion for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“At the beginning of this Congress, House Republicans said we would change how Washington works,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas). “As of today, we have sent seven appropriations bills to the Senate, totaling roughly 75% of government funding. The Senate has passed three of its bills, totaling 17%. We still have a lot more work to do to get full-year bills enacted into law."
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