Schumer Warns Of GOP ‘Hostage-Taking’ In Looming Budget Battle: Here’s What To Know About The Upcoming Spending Negotiations


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on House Republicans to pass the fiscal year 2024 budget “in a bipartisan way” in a letter Friday, urging them to avoid “brinkmanship” and “hostage-taking” in negotiating the spending deal due at the end of September—as right-wing members threaten to a government shut down if the budget does not meet their demands.

Key Facts

Schumer said “we cannot afford to jeopardize” economic upswing “because MAGA Republicans want to play political games,” recalling the debt ceiling negotiations that nearly caused a fiscal disaster earlier this year when right-wing Republicans refused to agree to a deal until the final hour in order to force spending cuts and rollbacks of President Joe Biden’s policies.

Schumer lauded the Senate Appropriations Committee for unanimously approving all 12 pieces of legislation that make up the budget in June and said the Senate’s priority when it returns next week will be working with the GOP-controlled House to reach an agreement on the spending package.

The White House on Thursday urged Congress to pass a short-term spending deal that would extend the current budget temporarily to give lawmakers additional time to negotiate a longer-term spending package.

Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have all signaled that a stop-gap measure is a viable path forward, but McCarthy faces resistance from the right flank of his party as some members are openly threatening to shut the government down if leadership does not agree to their priorities.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) is among the House Freedom Caucus members who have said they will not agree to a short-term budget without significant cuts to the existing budget, including spending rollbacks for the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department—two agencies right-wing members have targeted over their dissatisfaction with Biden’s border policies and the DOJ’s cases against former President Donald Trump.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) also said Thursday she “will not vote to fund the government unless we have passed an impeachment inquiry on Joe Biden,” and demanded cuts to the “weaponization of government,” a reference to the Justice Department, along with eliminating funding for Ukraine and ridding of all Covid-19 mandates.

What To Watch For

The House has just 11 legislative days on its calendar in September to negotiate a budget deal.

Chief Critic

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates pushed back on Greene’s threat Thursday in a statement that said “it would be a shame” if Republicans “caved to the hardcore fringe of their priority in prioritizing a baseless impeachment stunt over high stakes needs Americans care about deeply—like fighting fentanyl trafficking, protecting our national security, and funding [FEMA].” The House voted earlier this year to send a resolution to impeach Biden, citing his border policies, to committee, and right-wing members have continued to call for a floor vote that would open a formal impeachment inquiry.

Crucial Quote

“Honestly it’s a pretty big mess,” McConnell said Wednesday about the budget negotiations, forecasting that Congress would pass a short-term deal as lawmakers “struggle to figure out exactly what the government’s spending level is going to be.”

Key Background

The White House proposed a $6.8 trillion spending plan for fiscal year 2024 in March that aims to reduce the federal deficit by $3 trillion over the next 10 years. The budget also includes a new “billionaires tax” that would establish a 25% minimum tax rate for the top 0.01% of earners and impose new taxes on unrealized capital gains. In its request for a short-term spending deal, the White House on Thursday asked Congress for an additional $1.4 billion for the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program for low-income families and $1.9 billion for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Washington Post reported. With a slim 222-213 GOP majority in the House, right-wing members have repeatedly forced McCarthy to cave to their demands in order to pass key legislation, including a measure to suspend the debt ceiling until 2025. The agreement between the White House and House Republicans reached in June included a string of budget and policy priorities for the fiscal year 2024, including capping non-defense spending at its current level and a 1% increase in fiscal year 2025.

Further Reading

Biden Unveils $6.8 Trillion Budget With New Tax Revenue—Here’s What To Know (Forbes)

House Avoids Impeaching Biden, Rebuking Hard-Right Boebert In Latest Display Of GOP Divisions (Forbes)

Default Crisis Averted: Senate Passes Debt Ceiling Bill After Months-Long Debate (Forbes)

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