After emphatically congratulating themselves for managing to elect a speaker — and after leaving the position vacant while they fought for nearly a month — House Republicans took a minor break from public displays of dysfunction the last few weeks, a move guised as a “grace period” for new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).
In reality, it may have just been a calm before this week’s storm.
Leaders from both parties are set to meet tonight to discuss their positioning on the continuing resolution that Johnson put forth over the long weekend. Since Johnson announced his plan, both Democrats and Republicans have expressed varying levels of dismay with the proposal — a two-tiered funding schedule that includes neither aid for Israel or Ukraine nor any of the hardline Republicans’ ambiguous demands for border security and spending cuts. Even though the gimmicky two-tiered approach was thrown in as a bone to the House Freedom Caucus, the proposal is the kind of “clean” CR that hardliners have already signaled they’d wreak havoc over.
The House Rules Committee is holding hearings on the bill this evening. Some Republicans on the panel have suggested they’ll at least vote the proposal out of committee tonight, setting up a rules vote and potential floor vote as early as tomorrow.
With government funding set to run out on Friday and members en route back to Washington this evening, here’s where things stand with the Johnson proposal.
- At least eight House Republicans, mostly Freedom Caucus members, have come out against the measure, meaning it’ll likely need Democratic help just to clear procedural hurdles on the floor.
- At least one House Republican, Rep. Mike Ezell (R-MS), will be absent from Congress Tuesday due to his mother’s death.
- Freedom Caucus members are annoyed that it’s a “clean” CR, meaning it’s not been larded up with their demands for spending cuts or stuffed up with unrelated culture war riders. “I will not support a status quo that fails to acknowledge fiscal irresponsibility, and changes absolutely nothing while emboldening a do-nothing Senate and a fiscally illiterate President,” Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told reporters Monday.
- Privately, House Democrats reportedly think there will be enough support among members to help pass the stop gap bill, which would fund part of the government until Jan. 19 and part of it until Feb. 2.
- Last week, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) called the staggered approach — which will put lawmakers in the position of navigating even more shutdown threats in the new year — “ridiculous.” But in a letter to House Democrats Monday, he didn’t rule out the potential for Dem support: “At this time, we are carefully evaluating the proposal set forth by Republican leadership and discussing it with Members,” Jeffries wrote.
- House Democratic Chair Pete Aguilar on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today: “It seems to us that two steps means two opportunities for them to shut down the government in the future,” he said. “But we’re still trying to figure this out and where they want to go.”
- The White House has dubbed the Johnson bill an “unserious proposal” and a “recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns — full stop.”
Dean Phillips … :
- Meanwhile, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) sees a campaign opportunity in the shutdown moment as he continues with his quixotic bid against President Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic nomination.
- Phillips said today that he’d head back to Washington this week to vote in favor of Johnson’s proposal. “It’s not perfect, but it’s a whole lot better than a shutdown,” he told NBC News.
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