The House of Representatives is gearing up to vote Tuesday afternoon on Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan to avoid a government shutdown – the Louisiana Republican’s first big test just three weeks after taking the top leadership role.
With government funding set to expire on Friday, congressional leaders have acknowledged the need for a short-term extension of last year’s priorities, known as a continuing resolution (CR). Johnson’s new “laddered” approach would set two different funding deadlines for Congress’ 12 individual appropriations bills – a Jan. 19 date for four of the less traditionally controversial bills, and Feb. 2 for the others, including defense spending.
But the bill’s lack of any spending cuts or conservative policy riders – not usually the norm for a CR – has generated significant pushback from the right wing of the House Republican Conference.
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The hardline-right House Freedom Caucus released a statement Tuesday morning formally opposing the bill, explaining “it contains no spending reductions, no border security, and not a single meaningful win for the American People.”
“Republicans must stop negotiating against ourselves over fears of what the Senate may do with the promise ‘roll over today and we’ll fight tomorrow,’” the statement said. “While we remain committed to working with Speaker Johnson, we need bold change.”
Johnson himself defended the bill on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, “It’s a paradigm shift, because what it will do… it will prevent the dreaded Christmas omnibus spending bill where thousands of pages are hoisted upon the members at the last moment.”
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But the growing GOP opposition spurred concerns of the bill failing in a preliminary rule vote before the measure could even get to the House floor.
It forced leadership to switch tactics instead to pass the CR “under suspension,” forgoing the initial rule vote to bring the bill straight to the floor. However, passing a bill under suspension requires two-thirds of House support rather than the standard simple majority.
Democrats had been wary of the “laddered” deadlines in the CR, but their leaders in both the House and Senate suggested their party could support Johnson’s plan since it’s only an extension of last year’s funding.
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“For now, I am pleased that Speaker Johnson seems to be moving in our direction by advancing a CR that does not include the highly partisan cuts that Democrats have warned against,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Monday.
“The speaker’s proposal is far from perfect, but the most important thing is that it refrains from making steep cuts, while also extending funding for defense in the second tranche of bills in February, not the first in January.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told NPR on Tuesday morning, “Our current evaluation of the continuing resolution presented by Speaker Johnson is that it does not include extraneous and extreme right wing policy provisions.”
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Jeffries told reporters on his way into a closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting that he and other members of his leadership team were “open-minded” about the proposal.
The House and Senate must agree on some way to fund the government past Nov. 17, or risk a partial shutdown.