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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Congressional Leaders Reaching A Bipartisan Topline Appropriations Agreement

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on a topline funding agreement that preserves key programs and enables Congress to act to avoid a government shutdown. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

I’d like to begin the second session of the 118th Congress by wishing you and all my colleagues a Happy New Year. I hope everyone was able to spend time with family, with friends, and meet with constituents.

This past Christmas-New Year’s recess, however, was a busy, consequential, and, most of all, a productive time for the US Senate.

Senators and staff worked straight through Christmas – and straight through the New Year – on avoiding a government shutdown, on protecting America’s security, and even protecting the future of Western Democracy. And we have made some real progress.

First, I have excellent news on government funding. Yesterday, I announced with Speaker Johnson that Congressional Leaders have reached a topline agreement for government funding for the 2024 Fiscal Year.

When we began negotiations, our goal was to preserve a non-defense funding level of $772 billion – the same level agreed to in our debt ceiling deal last June – and that $772 billion was precisely the number we reached. Not a nickel – not a nickel – was cut.

Again, our goal was $772 billion, and that is precisely the number we reached in this bipartisan agreement.

This agreement now clears the way for Congress to act in the coming weeks to avoid a government shutdown, while also preserving key domestic programs that benefit millions of Americans.

The framework agreement will enable the appropriators to address many of the major challenges America faces at home and abroad. It also allows us to keep the investments for hardworking American families that Congressional Democrats and President Biden secured through our legislative agenda.

Both parties reached this agreements without – without – resorting to the painful and draconian cuts that the hard right, particularly those in the Freedom Caucus, clamored for.

The hard right wanted to put on the chopping block programs that help millions of Americans. So, I am happy to say that Democrats protected vital priorities like housing programs, veterans’ benefits, health care, nutrition programs, small business support, the NHS, and funding for federal law enforcement.

And I am especially pleased that we will protect the historic climate investment Democrats passed in the Inflation Reduction Act. The hard right wanted to use the appropriations process to undo our climate investments. Democrats said no. We held the line.

The hard right also wanted to make cuts to the IRS so that ultra-rich tax cheats could weasel their way out of paying their fair share. By keeping the cuts at $20 billion, I’m happy to say this agreement will not affect the IRS’s ability to keep holding the richest tax cheats accountable.

Remember, when Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, we gave the IRS new tools to audit the richest of the rich who don’t pay their fair share. All tools will remain in place.

This topline agreement is an excellent start to the year, because it is a huge step towards avoiding a government shutdown.

Of course, our work must continue. Producing twelve appropriations bills will not be easy. It’s going to require agreement from the four corners, and a lot more compromise between the parties.

And make no mistake: Democrats have made clear to Speaker Johnson that we will not support the inclusion of any poison pills in any of the twelve appropriations bills put before the Congress. In the statement that Leader Jeffries and I put out yesterday, we made it clear that we would not accept poison pills.

If the hard right chooses to spoil this agreement with poison pills, they’ll be to blame if we start careening towards a shutdown. And I know Speaker Johnson has said that nobody wants to see a shutdown happen.

Finally, thank you to my colleagues on both sides in both chambers who made this agreement possible. I want to particularly thank my staff, who worked morning, noon, and night over the past few weeks. I must have spoken to them ten, twelve times a day, every day, and even several times on Christmas day because getting this done was so important. 

The next few weeks are not going to be easy, but we Democrats are committed to working as hard as we can to avoid a government shutdown. I hope our Republican colleagues, particularly in the House – we have good cooperation here in the Senate – are ready to do the same.