Speaker-elect Mike Johnson is poised to vote Tuesday on a plan to avoid a government shutdown — yet his Republican hardliners now say they oppose any fiscal action he must take. It has to rely on democratic votes to get it done.
Johnson told his GOP convention over the weekend that he was moving forward with a two-step government plan, which he described as a “laddered CR,” or continuing resolution, that would fund the government through 2023.
With six Republicans publicly saying they won’t vote for it, it now appears Johnson will have to look across the aisle to pass his plan. Bob Good of Virginia, Warren Davidson of Ohio, Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia, Chip Roy of Texas, George Santos of New York and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania have indicated they will not support Johnson’s plan.
With a slim GOP majority, Johnson could lose only a handful of Republican votes if all members were present. Democratic leaders have yet to take an official position on Johnson’s government funding plan, saying in a letter Monday that they are “carefully evaluating” it.
On Monday, the Senate leadership appeared to support Johnson’s short-term funding plan. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took the stage in separate but similar speeches about Johnson’s proposal.
“For now, I am pleased that Speaker Johnson is moving in our direction by advancing a CR that does not contain the highly partisan cuts that Democrats have warned about,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday. “The Speaker’s proposal is not perfect, but the most important thing is that it avoids making steep cuts while extending defense funding in the second installment of bills.”
Schumer warned Johnson to hold firm against conservatives at his convention.
“I hope Speaker Johnson recognizes that he needs the support of Democrats in both houses if he wants to … avoid causing a shutdown. He should stay away from poison pills and steep right-wing cuts,” Schumer added.
McConnell spoke on the Senate floor, saying he supports the plan and urging his Republican colleagues to vote for it.
“House Republicans have crafted a responsible measure that will keep the lights on, avoid damaging government funding, and provide the time and space to complete their important work. I will support their continuing resolution and encourage my colleagues to do the same,” McConnell said.
Johnson’s fiscal plan is his first major test as speaker since he was elected last month after the historic ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Johnson, like McCarthy, faces a challenge: working to pass a clean CR while carefully maneuvering between moderates and hardliners in his conference. Like McCarthy, he sees the need for Democratic votes to keep the government open.
Johnson will not suffer the same fate as McCarthy, and Republicans have repeatedly said they will give Johnson some way to find his footing.
The laddered CR has two different deadlines to get different parts of the government up and running: Jan. 19 and Feb. 2. If the House passes the plan, the Senate must act by Friday night to avoid a shutdown.
“This bill would end the ridiculous holiday-season omnibus tradition of massive, loaded spending bills introduced before the Christmas holidays,” Johnson said in a statement. “Separating the CR from sub-fund discussions puts our conference in a better position to fight for fiscal responsibility, oversight of aid to Ukraine and meaningful policy changes on our southern border.”
The proposal has been vetoed by many in his own party.
“I oppose the proposed CR because it contains no spending cuts, no border security and no policy wins for the American people,” Good Sent to X.
Davidson said Johnson’s proposed plan includes “stable policies and funding levels.”
“Disappointment is fashionable. I’d vote no,” Davidson Sent to X. “Hopefully consensus will result in a more fair bill.”
Several Democrats, including Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, have indicated they will not vote for Johnson’s plan. House Minority Leader Hakeem Gebris has yet to say how the conference is instructed to vote.
A letter from Democratic leaders Jeffries, Democratic Whip Catherine Clarke and House Democratic Leader Pete Aguilar on Monday said House Democrats have reservations about the laddered CR.
“While House Republicans have abandoned the laddered funding approach with multiple expiration dates, we are concerned about the bifurcation of the continuing resolution in January and February 2024,” the letter states.
“We will continue this week through the lens of making progress for everyday Americans by continuing to engage people in politics,” the leaders continued in the letter.
Last week, Jeffries threw cold water on the ladder CR idea, but made it clear that a government shutdown should be avoided.
“We need to keep the government open and stop the extremists from harming America’s economy,” Jeffries said Posted on Friday X.