With GOP opposition, Speaker Mike Johnson would need Democratic votes to pass plan to avert shutdown

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(WASHINGTON) — The House is set to vote Tuesday on a plan newly-elected Speaker Mike Johnson has pitched to avert a looming government shutdown — yet enough of his Republican hard-liners have now said they’ll oppose the funding measure that he’ll have to rely on Democratic votes to pass it.

Johnson told his GOP conference over the weekend that he is moving forward with a two-step government plan that he has described as a “laddered CR” or continuing resolution that would keep the government funded at 2023 levels.

Now it looks as if Johnson will have to look across the aisle to pass his plan since six Republicans have publicly said they won’t vote for it. Reps. Bob Good of Virginia, Warren Davidson of Ohio, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Chip Roy of Texas, George Santos of New York and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania have all indicated they will not support Johnson’s plan on the floor.

With a slim GOP majority, Johnson can afford to lose only a handful of Republican votes if all members are present. Democratic leaders are not taking an official position just yet on Johnson’s government funding plan, saying in a letter Monday that they are “carefully evaluating” it.

On Monday, Senate leadership seemed to back Johnson’s short-term funding plan. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor in separate but similar speeches about Johnson’s proposal.

“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,” Schumer said Monday on the Senate floor. “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.”

Schumer warned Johnson to hold firm against conservatives in his conference who will surely complain that the short-term funding bill does not include budget cuts.

“I hope Speaker Johnson recognizes that he will need support from Democrats in both chambers if he wants to … avoid causing a shutdown. He needs to stay away from poison pills and steep hard right cuts for that to happen,” Schumer added.

McConnell also spoke on the Senate floor, saying he backs the proposal and will urge his Republican colleagues to vote for it.

“House Republicans have produced a responsible measure that will keep the lights on, avoid harmful left in government funding, and provide the time and space to finish their important work. I’ll support their continuing resolution and encourage my colleagues to do the same,” McConnell said.

Johnson’s financial plan is his first major test as speaker since he was elected last month after the historic ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Johnson is facing a similar challenge as McCarthy: working to pass a clean CR while carefully maneuvering between moderates and hard-liners in his conference. He also finds himself, like McCarthy, needing Democratic votes to help keep the government open.

It’s possible Johnson won’t face the same fate as McCarthy as Republicans have repeatedly said they hope to give Johnson some leeway to find his footing.

The laddered CR has two different deadlines to keep different parts of the government functioning: Jan. 19 and Feb. 2. If the House passes the plan, the Senate would then have to act by Friday night to avert a shutdown.

“The bill will stop the absurd holiday-season omnibus tradition of massive, loaded up spending bills introduced right before the Christmas recess,” Johnson said in a statement. “Separating out the CR from the supplemental funding debates places our conference in the best position to fight for fiscal responsibility, oversight over Ukraine aid, and meaningful policy changes at our Southern border.”

The proposal has been panned by several from his own party.

“I am opposed to the CR that has been proposed, because it contains no spending reductions, no border security, & no policy wins for the American people,” Good posted to X.
Davidson said the plan Johnson proposed has “status quo policies, and status quo funding levels.”

“Disappointing is as polite as I can muster. I will be voting NO,” Davidson posted to X. “Hopefully, the consensus will result in a more reasonable bill.”

Several Democrats — including Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut — have indicated they will vote no on Johnson’s plan. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has not yet said how the conference is being instructed to vote.

A letter from Democratic leaders, Jeffries, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark and Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar on Monday said House Democrats have reservations about the laddered CR.

“While House Republicans have abandoned a laddered funding approach with multiple expiration dates, we remain concerned with the bifurcation of the continuing resolution in January and February 2024,” the letter states.

“We will proceed this week through the lens of making progress for everyday Americans by continuing to put people over politics,” the leaders continued in the letter.

Last week, Jeffries threw cold water on the idea of laddered CR, but has made it clear the government shutdown must be averted.

“We must keep the government open and stop the extremists from hurting America’s economy,” Jeffries posted to X on Friday.

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