When exhausted and embittered House Republicans ended three weeks of leaderless disarray by finally settling on some dude who seemed nice, they likely thought that they were ending the chaos. They thought wrong. They elected a guy who isn’t a Freedom Caucus member in name but is decidedly one in spirit. New Speaker Mike Johnson’s first week of leadership showed that he’s relying on the worst people and their ridiculous ideas, creating even more complications between now and the government funding deadline that’s just two weeks away: Nov. 17.
Johnson got a “win” Thursday when the House passed his poisoned $14.5 billion Israel assistance bill with mostly Republican votes. Ten Democrats voted for the doomed bill once it was clear it had enough Republican votes to pass. Democratic leadership likely signed off on that with the knowledge that there’s no way this bill is going to become law. It increases the deficit by taking money away from the IRS and is basically a gift to the Republicans' rich, tax-cheating friends.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the bill is “stunningly unserious” and won’t be voted on in the Senate. “The Senate will not take up the House GOP's deeply flawed proposal, and instead we'll work on our own bipartisan emergency aid package,” he said. That package will include aid to Ukraine and Taiwan.
That means not only did Johnson waste precious legislative time on the bill, but he’s also alienated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the guy House Republicans most need on their side to have any hope of advancing their legislation.
Johnson compounded that with his big, nutty idea for funding the government: a “laddered” continuing resolution, which would inevitably kick off a cascading series of mini government shutdowns. According to Punchbowl News, the idea came from Freedom Caucus Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland. “Even GOP leadership aides found the plan bizarre and were alarmed Johnson mentioned it,” Punchbowl reports. The Senate will not go along with that idea either.
The impossible agenda that Johnson planned for government funding has proved to be, yes, impossible this week. He was going to pass three appropriations bills in the two-and-a-half working days in the House this week and has had to pull one of them. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill has been shuffled to next week, meaning they’ll have to try to do three massive spending bills then as well. Enough Republicans told leadership they would not be available for Friday votes, the official reason for postponing the bill. But Punchbowl reports that there is “stiff opposition from New York Republicans over cuts to rail and transit funding.” That’s likely a much bigger headache for Johnson on the bill than not having bodies to fill seats Friday.
Things are not going swimmingly for Johnson so far despite his “win” on Israel funding, which will only create more headaches for the Senate and complicate the path to funding the government in the next 14 days.
The countdown to the next government shutdown starts ... now
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