Biden hails $1.6 trillion spending deal in bid to avoid shutdown


Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, is one of the main architects of the tentative agreement – J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

US President Joe Biden hailed a $1.6 trillion (£1.25 trillion) spending plan announced by congressional leaders as he said the agreement could prevent “a needless government shutdown”.

Leaders in the US Congress announced an outline for the federal spending limit which could stop parts of the public sector running out of money if it is agreed and voted through in the coming weeks.

Mike Johnson, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader in the Senate, set out the headline figure as a starting point for more detailed negotiations.

If the finer points can be worked out by committees and then win over legislators, it could mean an end to the months of bitter wrangling which have engulfed Washington and posed the threat of a shutdown if chunks of the public sector run out of money later this month.

However, even this level of agreement is not solid. Separate statements by the Democratic and Republican leaders included differing figures on the amount of non-defence spending to which they had agreed, highlighting the extent to which the details still need to be hashed out.

Mr Biden said the initial agreement “moves us one step closer to preventing a needless government shutdown and protecting important national priorities.”

“It reflects the funding levels that I negotiated with both parties and signed into law last spring,” he said. “It rejects deep cuts to programs hardworking families count on, and provides a path to passing full-year funding bills that deliver for the American people and are free of any extreme policies.”

Mr Johnson said the $1.6 trillion cap on federal spending meant reductions of $16bn on previous plans, which he called “the most favourable budget agreement Republicans have achieved in over a decade”.

Mr Schumer said the agreement means “we can protect priorities like veterans’ benefits, health care and nutrition assistance from the draconian cuts sought by right-wing extremists”.