U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2023.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
WASHINGTON — The House approved a bill Tuesday that would avert a government shutdown, sending the measure next to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
The “laddered” continuing resolution, or CR, will fund parts of the government until Jan. 19 and others until Feb. 2. Once it is approved by the Senate, the bill goes to President Joe Biden, who has signaled he is open to signing it.
Without a funding bill in place that has been passed by both chambers and signed by the president, the government will shut down at 11:59 p.m. ET Friday.
The CR passed in the House with broad bipartisan support, which it needed, after Republican leaders decided to bring it to the floor under a procedural move that required a two-thirds majority, and not a simple majority, in order to pass.
The final tally was 336 in favor and 95 opposed, with 127 Republicans joining 209 Democrats to pass the bill. But the most surprising figure was how many Republicans broke with party leaders and voted against it: 93, vs. just 2 Democratic “nays.”
For newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., the bipartisan vote sends an early signal to the Senate and the White House that he is willing to reach across the aisle to pass pragmatic legislation when it’s necessary.
But it could also spell trouble for Johnson within his own caucus. It was just over a month ago that a group of ultra conservatives helped to oust Johnson’s predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. One of their chief frustrations with McCarthy, they said, was that he didn’t take a harder line on spending bills.
Under Johnson’s two stage funding expiration plan, certain federal programs like the Food and Drug Administration, military construction, veterans benefits, transportation, housing, urban development, agriculture, energy and water programs would be funded through Jan. 19. For everything else, Feb. 2 would the cutoff date.
Johnson said his novel plan would give the House the time it needs to move full-year agency funding bills through the regular appropriations process.
Despite initial reservations, Democrats publicly backed the bill on Tuesday in an effort to avert a shutdown.
House Democrats “have repeatedly articulated that any continuing resolution must be set at the fiscal year 2023 spending level, be devoid of harmful cuts and free of extreme right-wing policy riders,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y, said in a statement of support.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Tuesday released a statement opposing the resolution “as it contains no spending reductions, no border security, and not a single meaningful win for the American people.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said if the bill passed the House, he and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would move it swiftly through the Senate.
“Senate Leader [Mitch] McConnell and I will figure out the best way to get this done quickly,” said Schumer.