House Speaker’s Strategy to Avert a Shutdown Encounters Opposition from Both Parties

UNITED STATES: Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson of the United States announced a Republican stopgap budget bill on Saturday with the intention of preventing a government shutdown in one week, but Congressmen of both parties swiftly opposed the bill.

In contrast to regular continuing resolutions, or “CRs,” which provide funding to federal agencies for a set amount of time, Johnson’s proposed legislation would provide funding to some government departments until January 19 and others through February 2. Republicans in the House intend to approve the bill on Tuesday.

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Following a conference call to inform House Republicans of the proposal, Johnson released a statement saying, “This two-step continuing resolution is a necessary bill to place House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories.”

The House Republican stopgap lacked additional funding, such as aid for Israel or Ukraine.

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By Friday, the House and the Democratic-led Senate need to reach a consensus on a spending bill that President Joe Biden can sign into law.

If not, there could be the fourth partial government shutdown in ten years, which would result in the closure of national parks, interfere with the pay of up to 4 million federal employees, and disrupt a wide range of operations, including scientific research and financial oversight.

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In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that the plan was “just a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns.” She stated, “House Republicans are wasting valuable time with an unimportant proposal that has received criticism from members of both parties.”

Johnson, the leading Republican in Congress, revealed his stopgap measure a day after Moody’s, the last major credit ratings agency maintaining a top “AAA” rating on the U.S. government, shifted its credit outlook from “stable” to “negative.” Moody’s cited political polarisation in Congress regarding spending as a threat to the nation’s fiscal health.

The Louisiana Republican seemed to be seeking support from two conflicting House Republican groups: those advocating for a multi-deadline legislation, centrists pushing for a “clean” stopgap measure without spending cuts, and conservative policy riders opposed by Democrats.

The proposed bill aims to prolong funding for various sectors like military construction, veterans benefits, transportation, housing, urban development, agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and energy and water programs until Jan. 19, with funding for all other federal operations set to expire on Feb. 2.

However, both parties’ members swiftly criticised the plan.

A member of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, Representative Chip Roy, wrote on the social networking platform X, “My opposition to the clean CR just announced by the Speaker to the @HouseGOP cannot be overstated.”

Roy, who had demanded that spending cutbacks be included in the new proposal, wrote, “It’s 100% clean. And I 100% oppose.”

Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat, described Johnson’s measure as “super convoluted,” stating that “all of this nonsense costs taxpayer money.”

“We are going to pass a clean short-term CR. The only question is whether we do it stupidly and catastrophically or we do it like adults,” Schatz said on X.

A stopgap measure would provide legislators with additional time to enact comprehensive appropriations bills, ensuring government funding through September 30.

Johnson warned Democrats that the inability to reach an agreement on 2024 spending could lead House Republicans to implement “a full-year CR with appropriate adjustments to meet our national security priorities.”

Hardline House Republicans have been advocating for cuts in fiscal 2024 spending below the agreed-upon $1.59 trillion level from the May deal that averted default under Johnson’s predecessor.

However, this figure represents only a fraction of the overall federal budget, which exceeds $6.1 trillion in fiscal 2023, including mandatory outlays for programmes like Social Security and Medicare.

Less than three weeks ago, Johnson became the speaker of the house. If his present plan is not supported for passage and he is forced to settle for a normal CR that Democrats can live with, then he may jeopardise his own political future.

His predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, was removed from the position by eight Republican hardliners last month for pursuing a bipartisan measure to prevent a shutdown on October 1, the start of fiscal 2024, after hardliners blocked a Republican stopgap measure designed to appease them.

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