The House of Representatives is set to consider a stopgap funding measure on Tuesday to prevent a government shutdown. House Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan, sent to lawmakers on Monday night, involves a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government. By using a procedure called suspension of the rules, the bill can bypass the House Rules Committee, which previously indicated that they would not advance the legislation. However, it will need a two-thirds majority to pass the House and cannot be amended.
This approach, similar to one employed by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, aims to avoid a government shutdown. McCarthy’s use of a continuing resolution in September successfully prevented a shutdown but led to his removal as speaker after facing a vote of no confidence from Rep. Matt Gaetz. Unlike McCarthy, Johnson has not faced indications of a Republican push to oust him, considering he has spent limited time as speaker.
Johnson’s stopgap bill, unveiled on Saturday, would extend government funding at current levels for certain agencies until Jan. 19 and for others until Feb. 2. However, it does not include the significant spending cuts demanded by conservatives and does not allocate funds for Ukraine, Israel, and the southern border. Johnson aims to break the tradition of introducing loaded spending bills just before the Christmas recess.
The bill faced opposition within the House Rules Committee, with Rep. Chip Roy expressing disagreement with the plan. Additionally, Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Warren Davidson, George Santos, Bob Good, and Scott Perry have indicated their opposition. If they all vote against the bill, Johnson will need Democratic support for it to pass.
To avoid a government shutdown, Congress must pass appropriations bills before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. Currently, seven bills have been passed by the House, while the Senate has passed three bundled into a “minibus.” However, none have reached both chambers for final approval. In September, Congress approved a last-minute deal to fund the government through mid-November, and the delay in reaching a consensus on a replacement for Speaker McCarthy halted legislation progress for three weeks.
Johnson previously acknowledged the need for a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown and discussed a “laddered” approach that sets different lengths of funding for individual appropriations bills. His recent bill extends appropriations for veterans programs, transportation, housing, agriculture, and energy until Jan. 19. Meanwhile, funding for eight other appropriations bills, including defense, would be extended until Feb. 2.
While House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries initially deemed the “laddered” approach a “nonstarter,” the bill’s exclusion of spending cuts and amendments has made it more appealing to Democrats. President Biden, who criticized the bill as an “unserious proposal” in a White House statement, indicated on Monday that he may sign it if it passes in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also expressed reservations about the bill but emphasized the importance of avoiding steep cuts and the inclusion of defense spending in the February extension.
The Senate was scheduled to hold a procedural vote on Monday night for its short-term funding extension but delayed the vote to allow the House to proceed first with its proposal.