After weeks of tense negotiations between the White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the two sides came to a compromise agreement that generated angst on both the left and the right.
The debt ceiling increase is expected to avoid a new round of negotiations until after the 2024 elections. If you want to read the 99 pages, click here.
The House is expected to vote on the measure Wednesday of this week, with the Senate to follow soon after. According to the Department of Treasury, the present debt ceiling could be breached as early as June 5, giving Congress little time to pass the bill with a coalition of Republicans and Democrats.
The most significant impact on national security budget is an agreement to hold the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY 2024) national defense to President Joe Biden original request of $886 billion. While the Biden budget was an increase of $28 billion from the FY 2023 enacted level of $858 billion, the congressional hawks had insisted on a major increase from that level.
The White House, in return, agreed to hold most domestic programs about even at the fiscal year 2023 spending level.
The major impact on Pentagon spending: the services’ Unfunded Priority Lists (UPLs) of additional requests not included in the original budget cannot be funded in FY 2024 without cutting back programs already included in the original Biden budget.
A potential hitch: The House Rules Committee first has to approve procedures for the debate. And hardline conservatives such as Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) on the Rules Committee have said there was an “explicit” deal made with the Speaker back in January that “nothing would pass Rules Committee without at least seven GOP votes – and that the Committee would not allow reporting out rules without unanimous Republican votes.”
Authorization to Use Military Force
On March 8, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 13-8 to repeal 2002 and 1991 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, that launched President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Before the final vote, the Committee rejected 13-8 a Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) amendment that would specify that the U.S. has the authority to attack Iran. An amendment Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) amendment to also repeal the 2001 AUMF — which came in response to 9/11— was rejected 20-1.
On March 16, Senate took a proceduralvote of 68-27 to advance the repeal with 19 Republicans joining Democrats in support, strongly indicating the measure will pass the Senate.
On March 29, the Senate passed S. 316 to repeal the 1991 and 2022 AUMFs against Iraq by a vote of 66-30.
The Senate rejected six Republican amendments to the bill:
Johnson (R-WI) amendment on using force against Iran failed 47-49.
Ricketts (R-NE) amendment to require the President to consult Israel, Iran and other countries on the AUMF repeal failed 31-62.
Cruz (R-TX) amendment on the President’s use of force against Iran failed 41-55.
Sullivan (R-AK) amendment on responding to threats from Iran failed 38-57.
Scott (R-FL) amendment to set up a joint select committee on Afghanistan failed 33-62.
Hawley (R-MO) amendment to establish Special Inspector General for Ukraine Assistance failed 26-68.
The bill next goes to the House, where Republicans haven given mixed signals about their next steps on the legislation.
Aid to Ukraine
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine less than one year ago, Congress has approved more than $113 billion of aid and military assistance to support the Ukrainian government and allied nations. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 omnibus appropriations package included an additional $47.3 billion of emergency funding to provide humanitarian, military, and economic assistance to Ukraine on top of the $65.8 billion of funding already approved in three other emergency funding packages enacted by Congress. Of the $113 billion approved in 2022, about three-fifths ($67 billion) has been allocated toward defense needs and the remaining two-fifths ($46 billion) to nondefense concerns such as general Ukrainian government aid, economic support, and aid for refugee resettlement. [Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget]
Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Bill
On March 9, the Biden administration requested $886 billion in Fiscal Year 2024 budget authority for defense, including $842 billion for the Pentagon, a 3.2% increase over the enacted Fiscal Year 2023 level, plus $32.8 billion in atomic energy related defense spending. That number includes the request for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which builds nuclear weapons. As part of the request, the Pentagon asked for $15.3 billion to fund the U.S. military’s presence in the Pacific, part of the Biden administrations pivot to the China challenge. The Council’s sister organization, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, is preparing a detailed analysis.
U.S. Troops Overseas
On March 8, a resolution offered by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to force the withdrawal of American troops from Syria was defeated 103-321, with close to equal number of Democrats and Republicans voting aye.
On April 27, the House defeated a resolution put forward by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) 102-321 that would have required the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Somalia. The resolution was supported by 52 Republicans and 50 Democrats.
Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Appropriations Bill
Fiscal Year 2024 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill
Fiscal Year 2024 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill
Fiscal Year 2024 Military Construction-Veterans’ Administration (VA) Appropriations Bills
Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Resolution
The Senate annual budget resolutions, which used to launch the budget process each year, may have gone the way of the dodo bird. However, the House GOP has promised a balanced budget resolution to cut federal deficits and spending, but not until May at the earliest.
Congressional Recess Schedule
June 23–July 10 — Senate out of session (Independence Day)
June 23–July 11 — House out of session (Independence Day)
July 28–September 5 — Senate out of session (summer recess)
July 28–September 12 — House out of session (summer recess)
September 29–October 17 — House out of session (Columbus Day)
October 6–16 — Senate out of session (Columbus Day)
October 26–November 13 — House out of session
November 16–28 — House out of session (Thanksgiving)
November 17–27 — Senate out of session (Thanksgiving)