Feb 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Schumer and Johnson brawl over federal spending as deadline nears

Senate Majority Leader Schumer, wearing a dark blue suit, light blue shirt and gold tie, sits next to House Speaker Mike Johnson, wearing a dark blue suit, light blue shirt and red and blue striped tie, both wearing glasses and seated in front of a wood-paneled wall.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) exchanged harsh public comments on Sunday over negotiations on government spending.

Why it matters: Multiple federal agencies are set to shut down on Friday unless the two leaders reach a deal this week to keep them funded.

Driving the news: In a "dear colleague" letter on Sunday evening, Schumer said "intense discussions" with Johnson's team on spending are ongoing.

  • Schumer said he hoped to have bill text for a spending deal this weekend, but that House Republicans "need more time to sort themselves out."
  • "Unfortunately, extreme House Republicans have shown they're more capable of causing chaos than passing legislation," he wrote, calling for Johnson to "buck the extremists in his caucus and do the right thing."

The other side: Johnson shot back in a statement blasting the "counterproductive rhetoric" in Schumer's letter, saying the House has "worked nonstop, and is continuing to work in good faith."

  • The speaker accused Schumer of failing to mention "new Democrat demands" not included in the Senate's spending bills.
  • "Senate Democrats are attempting at this late stage to spend on priorities that are farther left than what their chamber agreed upon," he said.

State of play: The dispute leaves lawmakers without a deal going into a week in which they will already have a short runway to pass as many as four appropriations bill.

  • The first tranche of agencies – covered by four less controversial spending bills – is set to shut down on March 1, and the rest on March 8.

What we're hearing: House Republicans were told on a Friday call that they may need to pass a stopgap measure to keep the agencies funded temporarily, according to a lawmaker on the call.

  • There is also consideration of packaging the four appropriations bills into what is known as a "minibus," the lawmaker said, given that the House is only in session from Wednesday to Friday this week.
  • Johnson faces calls from his rebellious and powerful right flank to resist a bipartisan deal or a stopgap bill and instead hold out for deep spending cuts and conservative policy riders.

What's next: President Biden is summoning Schumer, Johnson, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to the White House on Tuesday.

  • "The President will discuss the urgency of passing the bipartisan national security supplemental and keeping the government open," the White House schedule says.
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