The House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution that aims to extend spending levels from last December’s lame duck session, which was dominated by Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, until 2024. The resolution received an impressive 336-95 vote, with 209 Democrats in favor compared to 127 Republicans.
Dubbed a “laddered CR,” the two-tiered continuing resolution maintains current spending levels for Agriculture, Energy and Water, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD spending bills until January 19. The remaining eight bills will be extended until February 2. These spending levels and policies were established by Democrats during the lame duck session in December 2022, after Republicans secured a House majority but before new members officially took office in January.
Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), both expressed support for the bill, which is expected to pass through the Senate by the Friday midnight deadline and reach President Biden’s desk. Schumer commended Speaker Johnson for opting not to incorporate spending cuts or modifications to Biden Administration policies in the spending package, referring to the bill as “a responsible measure.”
Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) pursued the passage of the bill under suspension of House rules due to inadequate Republican backing to advance the legislation through regular order. The regular order entails passing a “rule” that outlines the terms for the bill’s consideration on the floor, requiring only a simple majority. However, House Democrats made it clear that they would not assist Johnson in securing the passage of the rule, even though they supported the laddered CR itself.
Conservatives express concerns that by avoiding a confrontation, moderate Republican Senators like Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are gaining leverage. Graham, one of the authors of the 2013 Gang of Eight amnesty bill, is currently seeking a compromise on border policies that would provide political cover for Republicans to support a White House supplemental request for billions in foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. The foreign aid component of the supplemental, which does not require offsetting and is separate from previously approved spending, could potentially reach close to $100 billion.
Conservatives argue that allocating billions more to the Biden administration to continue its current border policies would worsen the border crisis by facilitating quicker processing and housing of even more migrants, thereby acting as a stronger magnet for migration. They insist on significant changes to border policy as a prerequisite for their support, citing the House-passed H.R. 2 as the benchmark for negotiations.