Budget Showdown: White House Battles House Republicans

The White House has indicated that President Joe Biden may use his veto power to block two appropriations bills proposed by Republicans, which suggest substantial budget cuts for various federal agencies. These bills are scheduled for a vote this week.

The President possesses the authority to veto a bill passed by Congress, preventing it from becoming law. However, Congress can override the President’s veto with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate.

In two separate statements of Administration Policy released on October 30th, the Biden administration expressed its opposition to the bills, stating that if either of them were presented to President Biden, he would veto them.

Additionally, the White House took the opportunity to criticize House Republicans for seeking more significant spending reductions than those agreed upon in a prior agreement between the White House and former House Speaker, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in May.

It’s worth noting that Rep. McCarthy was removed from the position of House Speaker through a vote initiated by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). One of Mr. Gaetz’s primary grievances against the former Speaker was that he facilitated the passage of legislation opposed by Republicans within his own party with the support of elected Democrats.

The White House stated, “The Administration negotiated in good faith with House Republican Leadership on bipartisan legislation to avoid a first-ever default and protect the Nation’s hard-earned and historic economic recovery.” They further added, “House Republicans had an opportunity to engage in a productive, bipartisan appropriations process, but instead are wasting time with partisan bills that cut domestic spending to levels well below the FRA agreement and endanger critical services for the American people.”

The two proposed bills include substantial cuts to multiple federal agencies, including a reduction of approximately $7 billion in funding for the Department of Transportation compared to fiscal year 2023 levels. Furthermore, there is a proposed cut of $1.2 billion from Housing and Urban Development funding in comparison to 2023 levels, and nearly $4 billion would be reduced from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) funding, bringing it down to levels not seen since FY 1991, according to the White House.

For both bills to become law, they must pass through the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate. At present, the GOP holds a narrow majority in the House.

The White House’s threat of a veto comes as lawmakers approach a government funding deadline on November 17th. In his final act as Speaker, Rep. McCarthy, with the backing of House Democrats, successfully pushed through a stopgap spending bill to fund the government until November 17th.

The newly-elected House Speaker, Mike Johnson (R-La.), who was relatively unknown in the political arena before becoming Speaker, must still pass seven of the 12 annual appropriations bills to prevent another government shutdown. Currently, only five of the 12 bills have been approved by the House, and the Senate has approved none.

The ongoing political standoff over raising the federal debt ceiling has been a significant issue throughout the year. This limit, imposed by Congress, places a cap on the total amount of debt the government can accumulate. Historically, when nearing the debt ceiling, Congress has typically raised the limit. However, in recent times, Republicans have advocated for spending cuts as the national debt exceeds $33 trillion.
On Monday, the U.S. Treasury released estimates indicating that it expects to borrow nearly $1.6 trillion in net new debt over the next six months, covering this quarter and the next.