House Democrats have indicated their support for Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan to fund the government, marking a significant step toward averting a potential shutdown. The plan had initially faced resistance from a few conservative members of Congress, making it necessary for Johnson to gain support from Democrats to pass it through the chamber. House Democratic leaders have announced that they are considering backing the Johnson strategy, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have also provided bipartisan support to the plan, suggesting that it has a good chance of passing through the Senate. The House is set to discuss the bill on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden, who had previously criticized the plan, did not commit to vetoing Johnson’s proposal when asked about it. This is a notable shift for Democrats, as just a few days ago, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries criticized the concept of the plan, calling it extreme and reckless. Johnson’s proposal is a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) without any spending cuts or controversial policy riders, which is a significant concession to Democratic demands. The proposed two-step approach would fund certain government departments until January 19 and extend funding for the Defense Department and other remaining parts of the government until February 2.
Johnson, who faces a narrow majority and opposition from some Republicans, will need Democratic support to pass his legislation. Several conservative House members have already voiced their opposition to the plan, with at least eight stating that they will vote against it. The Johnson CR plan has also garnered support from at least one Democrat, Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who believes that it is preferable to a shutdown. The plan also delays fights over spending cuts and other contentious issues until after Thanksgiving, but it includes an extension of the farm bill, which is beneficial to rural lawmakers and Democrats who support federal food and nutrition programs.
The Johnson plan, which originated from members of the far-right Freedom Caucus, has faced criticism from conservatives for its lack of spending cuts and border provisions. Rep. Chip Roy described it as an extension of existing spending policies without addressing the concerns of his constituents. Other conservative Republicans opposing the plan include Reps. Tim Burchett, Warren Davidson, Bob Good, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Scott Perry, and George Santos. The success of Johnson’s proposal will depend on the House, where it will face an early test in the form of a vote on the CR’s rule. In order to pass the rule, Johnson may need the support of some Democrats, as over 50 Democrats had previously helped Republicans pass the rule on legislation to raise the debt ceiling.
Meanwhile, senators had been developing an alternative plan to keep the government open, but with the increasing support for Johnson’s plan, it appears that this may no longer be necessary. Schumer announced that the Senate would “pause” its plans to allow the House to take the lead on the issue, indicating that Johnson’s plan is moving in the right direction according to Democratic priorities.