Following the approval of a government funding proposal by the House, a White House official confirmed that President Biden would sign the continuing resolution. The decision came after acknowledging that the House plan provided the closest thing to a victory for Democrats by averting a government shutdown and funding cuts. With an untested House speaker, Democrats initially feared a more dramatic standoff but soon realized the potential implications of the bill not passing.
Despite compromises, the deal did not include the White House’s primary legislative priority of a $106 billion defense supplemental. The main concern shared by the White House and congressional Democrats was the complex system of multiple funding deadlines proposed by Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray. However, the two-tiered system in Speaker Mike Johnson’s proposal, although criticized, was not enough reason to oppose the bill.
While the White House acknowledged that the bill was not ideal, it kept the government open and prevented spending cuts. The White House did not issue a Statement of Administration Policy on the bill, which is unusual for high-profile legislation. A united front among House Democrats, with only two opposing the bill, pleased the White House, especially given the sharp divide among House Republicans on the vote.
The change in the White House’s stance came after discussions with congressional leaders and a recognition of the bill’s potential to avoid a shutdown. Uncertainty initially surrounded the bill due to its fast-moving nature and lack of clear direction from the White House. However, it seemed unlikely that the White House would veto the bill if it garnered substantial Democratic support.
The focus now for Democrats and the White House is advancing the president’s foreign aid request. The next partial government funding deadline is on Jan. 19, with no immediate legislative deadlines that could prompt action before then. Republican Ukraine supporters expressed little concern about delaying the defense supplemental, with optimism that it could be accomplished by the end of the year.
Moving forward, the White House plans to prioritize the defense supplemental, making it clear to Republicans how important it is. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated that the Senate would address the matter shortly after the Thanksgiving break. However, tough negotiations are expected due to conservative opposition to funding Ukraine and its connection to border policy.
Despite the challenging politics involved, Democrats believe they are making the best of the situation. In the face of an unconventional political landscape, compromises with opposition have become necessary to keep things moving forward.