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Senate GOP lawmakers bash $1.66 trillion Johnson-Schumer budget agreement: ‘Can and must do better’

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Several GOP senators, in alignment with House Republicans, expressed outrage over the agreed-upon annual government spending cap of $1.59 trillion brokered between House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over the weekend. 

Lawmakers argued Monday that this figure neglects ample Republican suggestions for budget cuts. Meanwhile, the first spending deadline is fast approaching on Jan. 19. That means there are just eight legislative days until Congress must pass the first batch of appropriations to fund several federal agencies to avert a government shutdown. The second deadline is Feb. 2. 

'As the House Freedom Caucus has noted, the actual spending levels in this plan are nearly $100 billion above what we are being promised, but mostly preserve all the pre-existing funding for Biden’s priorities,' Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah told Fox News Digital on Monday. 

'At a time when we’re $34 trillion in debt and inflation is hollowing out America’s middle class, Republicans can and must do better than this,' he said. 

The $1.59 trillion figure was part of an agreement mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) last year, a compromise reached during debt limit talks between President Biden and then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. 

Democratic leaders said the final top line would also include an additional $69 billion in nondefense discretionary spending that was part of a McCarthy and Biden side deal at the time. That would bring the total to roughly $1.66 trillion, a figure the House Freedom Caucus called 'a total figure.'

The budget comprises of $886 billion allocated for defense and $704 billion designated for nondefense expenses.

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kans., a member of the upper chamber's budget committee, said there will be at least a dozen Republican senators who 'are going to have to look twice at this number.' Nonetheless, he thinks the budget in its current form will still reach the 60 votes needed to pass.

'Speaker Johnson is gonna have to try really hard to get his conference on board with this, but I don't think he's going to ever get more than 90% of them on board with it,' Marshall told Fox News Digital on Monday. 

'He needs every vote he can get, and they're going to want to argue about this $70 billion, which is important — that's a lot of money,' he said. 

According to Johnson, the achieved Republican concessions involve $10 billion in extra cuts to IRS mandatory funding (totaling $20 billion) and a $6.1 billion reduction from the Biden administration's ongoing COVID-related funds.

Johnson said the new agreement would see some additional cuts to discretionary spending to offset the deal.

However, a potential confrontation is approaching. Johnson has emphasized his desire to include conservative policy additions in the ultimate spending agreement.

Opening up the next legislative session Monday afternoon, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor that 'both parties reached this agreement without resorting to the painful and draconian cuts that the hard right, particularly those in the Freedom Caucus clamored for.'

'And make no mistake, Democrats have made clear to Speaker Johnson that we will not support the inclusion of any poison pills in any of the 12 appropriation bills before the Congress,' he said.

Fox News' Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report. 

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