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Democrats draw their line in the next government funding fight

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House and Senate Democrats are determined to ensure their priorities don’t get short shrift in a likely bumpy upcoming government funding cycle, with Congress hurtling toward a presidential election this fall.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Wednesday that Democrats will insist on a boost for nondefense funding that matches the Pentagon budget hike Republicans will inevitably push for in coming months, despite funding caps set by last summer’s bipartisan debt deal.

“We do need stronger investments in our military and national security to address the challenges we face today,” Murray told reporters. “But investing in child care, in health care, in education, our environment, in workers, in critical research and all of those other priorities here at home matters just as much as the investments we make in our military.”

Similarly, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Democrats in the lower chamber will accept nothing less than funding levels established by the bipartisan debt package.

Markups on the horizon: Murray also said she intends to mark up fiscal 2025 spending bills in committee, although she didn’t offer details as to when. Senate appropriators approved all of their funding bills in committee last summer for the first time in five years.

“I don’t have a timeline for you,” Murray said Wednesday about scheduling markups. “I’m talking to [ranking member] Susan Collins about how we’re going to get it done.”

Key context: The debt agreement signed by President Joe Biden last year allows for a 1 percent increase to defense and nondefense budgets for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, capping defense at $895.2 billion and nondefense at $710.7 billion.

Since Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy struck that deal, conservatives have unsuccessfully fought to slash money for domestic programs, only to wind up with roughly level funding across two government funding packages cleared by Congress in March.

Senior appropriators, like Collins and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who oversees the defense spending bill, have already suggested that a 1 percent budget boost for the military might be inadequate when it comes to keeping up with inflation and readiness needs next year.

Nicholas Wu, Jennifer Scholtes, Connor O’Brien and Joe Gould contributed to this report.