In his first major legislative test, newly appointed Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is facing a significant challenge in rallying the divided Republican majority to back his unorthodox plan to prevent a government shutdown.
Johnson’s proposal for a two-part stopgap bill that does not involve any spending cuts is meeting resistance from some of the more hardline Republican members, who fear a repeat of their predecessor’s downfall due to a “clean” bill.
This is the third fiscal showdown in Washington this year, following a prolonged standoff over the nation’s debt. The continuing partisan stalemate, made worse by divisions within the slim 221-212 House Republican majority, has prompted Moody’s to downgrade the country’s credit rating outlook.
Even though some Democratic lawmakers have shown support for Johnson’s plan, it would have to pass in the heavily Democratic-controlled Senate and gain the approval of President Joe Biden before midnight on Friday to avoid significant disruptions for millions of federal workers.
Johnson’s two-step resolution seeks to appease two opposing wings of the Republican party, with different funding deadlines for various federal agencies for the hardliners and a “clean” bill for the moderates.
Johnson’s bill would continue funding for essential services like military construction, transportation, agriculture, and the FDA until January 19, with funding for other federal operations expiring on February 2. Johnson hopes that this will push Congress to agree on spending bills for fiscal 2024 by the given deadlines.
However, the White House and politicians on both sides have expressed dissent, including hardline Republicans who have staunchly lobbied for a CR with spending cuts. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Warren Davidson, two of Johnson’s hardline colleagues, have both announced their opposition to the bill.