UPDATE: Joan McCarter
And it’s official. There will not be a government shutdown threatening everyone's holiday plans. Unless it’s Groundhog Day. The CR passed 336-95, with the overwhelming majority of votes from Democrats—209 of them to 127 Republicans.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Speaker Mike Johnson’s “laddered” continuing resolution to keep the government open. The deadline for action is this Friday, Nov. 17. It is the first big test of Johnson’s speakership, so it’s kind of a big deal that he’s looking to Democrats to get it done.
Johnson and his team are not making the mistake former Speaker Kevin McCarthy made the last time Congress was facing a shutdown, which was at the end of September. McCarthy was under orders from the Freedom Caucus maniacs to pass funding with just Republican votes, which he couldn’t do because moderates rebelled against the poison-pill CR and its drastic spending cuts. At the last minute, McCarthy was forced to put a clean CR on the floor and pass it with Democrats.
This time around, Johnson is accepting that he can’t do it with just Republican votes. He’s bypassing all the drama, or perhaps just putting it off until two funding deadlines that will arrive early next year: military and veterans affairs, Energy and Water, Agriculture, Transportation, and Housing would be extended through Jan. 19. State, Justice, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, and other departments would be extended through Feb. 2. Democrats are not thrilled with the doubled shutdown threat. In fact, some call it “stupid.” But they’re giving him the benefit of the doubt because he’s willing to do what shouldn’t be a big deal: a bipartisan solution to averting a government shutdown at current spending levels set by the previous Democratic majority.
The CR will go to the floor under suspension of the rules, where it will need 290 votes to pass. Johnson has been talking with Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, who blasted the idea of two-step CR last week. He told the Democratic caucus in a letter Monday that their primary responsibility is keeping the government operating, and that Democratic leaders "are carefully evaluating the proposal set forth by Republican leadership and discussing it with Members." Johnson has also cleared the way with Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell.
“Democrats don’t want to shut down the government,” Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland told Punchbowl News on Monday evening. But he’s still not excited by how they’re doing it. “I think this is a bad process that he set up.”
“The main thing is we have a clean continuing resolution and we don’t shut the government down,” added Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, who is the ranking member on the House Budget Committee. “Shutting the government down would cost taxpayers billions of dollars and impede our economic recovery.”
The Freedom Caucus doesn’t see it that way, though. They are formally opposing the CR because it does not include spending cuts, border security, or “a single meaningful win for the American People.” Having a functioning government—and avoiding wasting potentially billions of dollars on a shutdown—is not “meaningful” where those guys are concerned. But we knew that.
What’s probably a larger concern for the hardliners is that Johnson is setting the precedent of working with Democrats. That’s also part of why Democrats are willing to work with him now. It puts Democrats on stronger footing going into the conference meeting with the Senate on all the appropriations bills. They’ll have some leverage over Johnson—they saved him from a shutdown. It also saves a lot of holiday angst and gives them breathing room to keep negotiating President Joe Biden’s separate supplemental request for aid to Ukraine and Israel.
House Speaker Mike Johnson’s bid to avert government shutdown
Surreal week in the House shows just how broken the GOP is
Republican moderates express frustration behind closed doors but refuse to act