US House Speaker Johnson floats two-step measure to avert gov’t shutdown By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: New Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Mike Johnson (R-LA) walks from his office on the House floor to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 26, 2023.REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson on Saturday unveiled a stopgap Republican spending measure aimed at averting a government shutdown within a week, but the measure quickly ran into opposition. opposition from lawmakers in both parties in Congress.

Unlike regular continuing resolutions, or “CRs,” which fund federal agencies for a specific period of time, the measure Johnson announced would fund some parts of the government through Jan. 19 and others through Feb. 2. House Republicans hope to pass the measure. Tuesday.

“This two-step continuing resolution is a necessary bill to put House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories,” Johnson said in a statement after announcing the plan to House Republicans during a conference call.

The House Republican stopgap contained no additional funding such as aid to Israel or Ukraine.

The Democratic-led House and Senate must agree on a spending instrument that President Joe Biden can sign into law by Friday, or risk a fourth partial government shutdown in a decade that would shut down national parks and would disrupt the paychecks of 4 million federal workers. and disrupt a number of activities ranging from financial surveillance to scientific research.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that the proposal was “just a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns.” She said “House Republicans are wasting valuable time with a flimsy proposal that has been rejected by members of both parties.”

Johnson, the top Republican in Congress, unveiled his interim plan a day after Moody’s, the last major credit rating agency to maintain the top “AAA” rating on the U.S. government, downgraded it to “negative ” his perspective on the country’s credit. from “stable,” citing political polarization in Congress over spending as a danger to the nation’s fiscal health.

The Louisiana Republican appeared to appeal to two warring House Republican factions: hard-liners who wanted legislation with multiple end dates; and centrists who had called for a “clean” interim measure, without spending cuts and conservative policies that Democrats reject.

The legislation would extend funding for military construction, veterans’ benefits, transportation, housing, urban development, agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and energy and water programs until January 19. Funding for all other federal operations would expire on February 2.

But the project quickly came under fire from members of both parties.

“My opposition to the clean CR just announced by the @HouseGOP chair cannot be overstated,” Rep. Chip Roy, a member of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, said on the social media platform X.

“It’s 100% clean. And I’m 100% opposed to it,” wrote Roy, who had asked that the new measure include spending cuts.

Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz called Johnson’s measure “super convoluted,” adding that “all this nonsense costs taxpayers money.”

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

A stopgap measure would give lawmakers more time to implement large-scale appropriations bills to fund the government through Sept. 30.

Johnson warned Democrats that failure to reach a deal on 2024 spending would prompt House Republicans to implement “a full-year CR with appropriate adjustments to meet our national security priorities “.

Republican hardliners in the House of Representatives have pushed to cut spending for fiscal 2024 below the $1.59 trillion level agreed to by Biden’s predecessor and Johnson in the May deal that made it possible to avoid payment default. But even that represents only a small share of the overall federal budget, which also includes mandatory spending on Social Security and Medicare, and topped $6.1 trillion in the 2023 fiscal year.

Johnson, who won the president’s gavel less than three weeks ago, could put his own political future at risk if his current plan fails to gain the support needed for passage and he is forced to opt for a standard CR that Democrats can accept.

His predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, was ousted from office by eight Republican hardliners early last month after proposing a bipartisan measure to avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1, the start of the 2024 fiscal year. McCarthy opted for the bipartisan route after hard-liners blocked a Republican stopgap measure with features intended to appease them.

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