House Speaker Mike Johnson Proposes Two-Step Stopgap Funding Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, revealed on Saturday his proposal to avoid a partial government shutdown extending government funding for some agencies and programs through January 19 and continuing funding for others through February 2.

The approach is unusual for a stopgap spending bill. Lawmakers typically extend funding until a certain date for all programs. Johnson decided to go with the combined approach, addressing concerns from Republican lawmakers seeking to avoid having a massive spending bill presented to them just before the holidays.

“This two-step continuing resolution is a necessary bill to put House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories,” Johnson said in a statement after speaking with GOP lawmakers on a conference call. in the afternoon. “The bill will end the absurd holiday season-wide tradition of massive, loaded spending bills introduced just before the Christmas recess.”

The invoice excludes funding requested by President Biden for israel, Ukraine and the United States border with Mexico. Johnson said separating Biden’s request for an emergency supplemental bill from the temporary, stopgap measure “puts our conference in the best position to fight for fiscal responsibility, oversight of aid to Ukraine, and meaningful policy changes in our southern border.”

Hardline Conservatives, who are generally loathe to support temporary spending measures of any kind, had indicated they would give Johnson some latitude to pass legislation, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, to give Congress more time to negotiate a deal through long term.

But some were critical in their reactions after the conference call.

“My opposition to the clean CR just announced by the @HouseGOP Chairman cannot be overstated,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, tweeted on X. “Fund Pelosi-level spending and policies for 75 days – for future promises.” ‘”

The federal government is operating below funding levels approved last year by a Democratic-led House and Senate. Faced with a government shutdown when the fiscal year ended on September 30, Congress passed a 47-day continuing resolution which finances the government until November 17, but the consequences were serious. Representative Kevin McCarthy was torn off of the presidency days later, and the House was effectively paralyzed for most of the month as Republicans tried to elect a replacement.

Republicans were ultimately unanimous in electing Johnson as president, but his rise has not eased the dynamic that led to McCarthy’s ouster: a conference divided both on policy and on how much to spend on federal programs. Last week, Republicans had to pull two spending bills from the floor — one to fund transportation and housing programs and the other to fund the Treasury Department, the Small Business Administration and other agencies — because they didn’t have the votes. in his own party. to push them through the Chamber.

A document explaining Johnson’s proposal to House Republicans, obtained by The Associated Press, said funding for four spending bills would be extended through Jan. 19. Veterans programs and bills related to transportation, housing, agriculture and energy would be part of that extension. .

Funding for the other eight spending bills, which include defense, the State Department, Homeland Security and other government agencies, would be extended through Feb. 2.

The document sent to Republican lawmakers and key staff claims Johnson inherited a budget disaster. He took office less than three weeks ago and immediately began considering appropriations bills by regular order. Still, with just days left before lockdown, continued resolution is now required.

“This proposal is just a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns, period,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Saturday about Johnson’s proposal. “Just days away from an extreme Republican shutdown, and after shutting down Congress for three weeks after they ousted their own leader, House Republicans are wasting precious time with an unserious proposal that has been criticized by members of both parties.”

Underscoring concerns about the possibility of a shutdown, credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service on Friday downgraded its outlook on U.S. government debt to “negative” from “stable,” citing the cost of rising interest rates and the political polarization in Congress.

House Republicans pointed to the national debt, which now exceeds $33 trillion, to justify Moody’s decision. Analysts have warned that with interest rates rising, interest costs on the national debt will consume an increasing proportion of tax revenues.

Reacting to Moody’s announcement, Johnson said that House Republicans are committed to working in a bipartisan manner to achieve fiscal restraint, starting with the introduction of a debt commission.

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