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Congress Approves Stopgap, Averting Government Shutdown Through March and Cutting IRS Funding

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jan 19, 2024


Congress has passed a short-term budget bill that will fund the government through early March, with one day to spare before the government would begin to shut down, multiple news organizations reported.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 314 to 108, and the U.S. Senate voted 77 to 18, to approve the stopgap funding.

In the House, 107 Republicans voted in favor, 106 voted against, and seven did not vote, according to The Wall Street Journal.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill before midnight on Friday, which will allow the government to operate for another six weeks as Congress continues to negotiate and pass a dozen spending bills totaling $1.66 trillion to fund the government through the fall, the level Democrats and Republicans agreed upon earlier this month, The New York Times reported. That plan would hold most federal spending steady while bolstering the military.

The agreement passed despite the opposition of the House Republican Freedom Caucus, which earlier this month demanded that House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) abandon the larger funding deal that he made with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in favor of insisting on spending cuts that restore the federal budget to pre-pandemic levels, The Washington Post reported.

Instead, Johnson stuck with the agreement that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.) struck with the president in the spring as part of negotiations to suspend the nation’s debt limit.

The short-term budget bill means that the IRS, which was preparing for the possibility of a shutdown in early February, will be able to fully operate through early March.

But Johnson’s deal claws back $10 billion in IRS funding in 2024, as well as $6.1 billion in unspent coronavirus emergency aid, the Post reported.

“We got $16 billion in real cuts out of the IRS slush fund and COVID slush fund that the Biden administration was so jealously guarding and protecting, and that’s an important improvement,” The Post reported Johnson as telling reporters.

In October 2023, IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said in a congressional hearing that the agency is making good use of the funding allocated to it by the Inflation Reduction Act. Before  a joint meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Government Operations and the Federal Workforce, and Health Care and Financial Services subcommittees, he said that the IRS is dramatically improving its customer service for taxpayers and starting to realize returns on its boosted enforcement of high-earning individuals and corporations, Government Executive reported

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