Government funding, border talks set to collide when Congress returns

Government funding, border talks set to collide when Congress returns

5 minutes, 40 seconds Read

High-stakes talks over government funding and border security are set to collide when Congress returns to session this week, presenting lawmakers with two politically prickly matters that carry serious implications.

Congressional leaders announced a deal on topline spending numbers Sunday afternoon, lowering the chances of a government shutdown as the first of two funding deadlines fast approaches. A number of hurdles, however, remain — including the threat by some House conservatives to shut down the government unless they receive substantive border security policy.

That posture comes as Senate negotiators are inching closer to a long-awaited deal on border security. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), the top GOP negotiator, said text could be released as soon as this week.

Also this week, the House Homeland Security Committee is scheduled to hold its first impeachment hearing for Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accelerating the panel’s effort against the embattled department head as the GOP conference sounds the alarm about the situation at the southern border.

And the House Judiciary Committee is slated to mark up a resolution to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress after the president’s son defied a congressional subpoena and did not appear at a scheduled deposition with the panel.

Congress stares down government funding deadline

Efforts to avert a government shutdown got a shot in the arm on Sunday when House and Senate leaders announced a topline spending deal — but lawmakers are not out of the woods yet.

The topline number for fiscal year 2024 spending is at $1.590 trillion, in line with the levels set in the debt limit deal — dubbed the Fiscal Responsibility Act — that lawmakers approved in the spring. The top four Congressional leaders and President Biden backed the deal Sunday.

The announcement comes ahead of the Jan. 19 government funding deadline, when Congress must approve legislation funding some programs and agencies. The rest of funding expires on Feb. 2.

The Senate is scheduled to reconvene on Monday, and the House returns to Washington on Tuesday.

But government funding still faces obstacles to passage. The House Freedom Caucus came out against the topline spending deal Sunday, writing on X: “This is a total failure.”

“It’s even worse than we thought. Don’t believe the spin. Once you break through typical Washington math, the true total programmatic spending level is $1.658 trillion — not $1.59 trillion,” the group added.

And some conservative Republicans are threatening to force a shutdown unless Congress approves substantive border security, making matters more difficult for lawmakers to keep the lights on.

Pressure on Senate to strike border deal

Negotiations on border security could see a breakthrough this week.

Lankford, the top GOP negotiator, told “Fox News Sunday” that negotiators are hoping to release text on a border security deal this week, a long-awaited development that follows months of negotiations between a bipartisan group of senators.

“Text hopefully this week to be able to get that out. Everybody will have time to be able to read it and go through it. No one’s going to be jammed in this process, but it’s a matter of trying to be able to get this out,” Lankford said.

A deal on border security would unlock aid to Ukraine, which Republicans have been holding up in anticipation of legislation addressing the southern border. Lawmakers in both parties and chambers, in addition to the Biden administration, have been underscoring the need to send more aid to Kyiv. Some conservatives are also conditioning government funding on border security.

Even if the Senate group announces a deal, there is no guarantee that the framework becomes law. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) will have to put the bill on the floor for a vote, a move that is up in the air as House Republicans push for the inclusion of H.R. 2, their border package that cleared the chamber with no Democratic support in May.

During an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” that aired on Sunday, Johnson would not commit to putting the Senate deal on the floor.

“It’s a hypothetical question. Again, they’ve not sent me any of these provisions,” he said.

Lankford on Sunday alluded to the complicated dynamics in a divided Washington, while underscoring the importance of landing a deal.

“But to make law, we’ve got to have a Democrat Senate, a Democrat White House and a Republican House to be able to go through this. So this agreement has to work,” he said. “Everyone’s counting on this actually working.”

House panel to hold Mayorkas impeachment hearing

Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee are charging ahead with an effort to remove Mayorkas from his post this week, holding the first of four impeachment hearings that will culminate with advancing a resolution to formally oust him from office.

The hearing — scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. — is titled “Havoc in the Heartland: How Secretary Mayorkas’ Failed Leadership Has Impacted the States.”

The presentation follows a months-long review of Mayorkas’s leadership, led by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Texas). Republicans have argued that the secretary has shown a “dereliction of duty” in the way he has managed the situation at the border.

It also comes on the heels of a trip Speaker Johnson took to the border with roughly 60 other Republican lawmakers, a sign that the GOP conference plans to have a stark focus on the border in the second half of the 118th Congress.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) moved to force a vote on impeaching Mayorkas in November, but the House ultimately referred the matter to committee. But the effort, nonetheless, put a spotlight on the push by conservatives to eject the embattled secretary.

House panel to mark up contempt of Congress resolution for Hunter Biden

House Republicans this week will move to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena and failed to appear for a deposition as part of the GOP’s impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

The House Oversight Committee issued Biden a subpoena in November, requesting that he appear for a deposition on Dec. 13. The House GOP impeachment inquiry into Biden has included allegations that family members were involved with influence peddling.

Instead of appearing for the deposition, however, Biden delivered a statement on the Capitol complex, defying the panel’s request and prompting Republicans to threaten contempt proceedings.

If the House Judiciary Committee advances the contempt of Congress during a markup — set for Wednesday at 10 a.m. — the entire House would then have to approve the measure which, if successful, would be an extraordinary rebuke of the president’s son.

The resolution, however, is merely a recommendation — the Justice Department will subsequently determine if it wants to bring charges against Biden.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *