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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Bipartisan Topline Appropriations Agreement

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on a bipartisan topline funding agreement. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

As the Senate begins our work in 2024, three things are true:

First, there’s a lot we have to do at the start of the year, including funding the government, working towards a national security supplemental, confirming more nominees through the Senate, and much more. We made good progress on many bipartisan bills last year which we’d like to bring to the floor this year.

Second, the only way we are going to get anything of consequence done is through bipartisan cooperation.

Third, the Senate is off to a good start.

A few days ago, I announced, alongside Speaker Johnson, that Congressional leaders have reached a significant milestone for government funding: we’ve agreed to topline funding numbers for Fiscal Year 2024. This now clears the path for appropriators to begin drafting the twelve appropriations bills.

Yesterday, I spoke with Chair Murray, and then I met in my office with Leader McConnell, and we are all on the same page that we want to move as quickly as we can to finish the appropriations process.

We have only ten days until the first deadline on January 19th, so both parties must continue working together to minimize the risk of a government shutdown.


Now, it wasn’t easy to come to an agreement on topline numbers, but Democrats are very pleased with the ultimate outcome.

From the beginning, Democrats had one goal in mind, our North Star: to keep non-defense funding levels at $772.7 billion, the exact same number we agreed to in June last year when we avoided default.

Many on the hard right, particularly those in the Freedom Caucus, wanted to see that number brought down significantly, and that would have made certain devastating cuts to all sorts of programs that help millions of Americans.

But Democrats, who control the presidency and have a majority in the Senate, said no, no, no to draconian cuts. We told the hard right that they cannot bully or threaten their way to getting the kind of draconian cuts that the vast majority of Americans, and many, many Republicans, oppose. You hear it when Republicans go home to their districts and brag about some of the very things that these hard right people want to cut.

So, we held the line. And as a result, we have successfully protected vital priorities like housing programs, veterans’ benefits, health care, nutrition, small business support, the NHS, and funding for federal law enforcement.

Hard right Republicans wanted to use the appropriations process to gut Democrats’ historic clean energy investments that we passed in the IRA. Those, too, will be absolutely protected.  

And even though the hard right is always obsessed with starving the IRS of resources, this agreement protects important funding the IRS needs to hold ultra-rich tax evaders accountable. This work will not be undermined.

The IRS has made great progress, brought in lots of money that always should have been there, but because very wealthy people are able to hire lawyers and accountants to evade taxes, they got away with it. No more.

All in all, this topline agreement is a good outcome for the country, and a strong start to the year.

Now, certainly there is more work to do. Agreeing to a topline number is important, but so is the next step: translating that number into twelve appropriations bills that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and reach the President’s desk.

None of us want to see a government shutdown, so we’ll do everything possible to ensure we avoid one in the coming weeks.

If Republicans in the House follow the approach we’ve taken in the Senate, a bipartisan approach where Democratic and Republican appropriators have worked collaboratively despite our disagreements, then we can minimize the risks of a shutdown.

But if House Republicans bend to the insatiable whims and demands of their hard right flank, if they corrode the appropriations process with poison pills and extremist policy proposals, then they will be responsible for moving us closer to a shutdown. I hope that does not happen. But we will not be bullied by a few hard right radicals.