House Republicans under the leadership of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) are preparing yet another temporary spending band-aid (continuing resolution) in order to avert a Nov. 18 government shutdown, which they could vote on as early as this week, lawmakers said following a meeting with Johnson.
This is Johnson's first high-stakes negotiation as speaker, following the ouster of his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), shortly after the House passed the last continuing resolution.
Johnson's options are as follows (via Punchbowl News).
1) The laddered CR. Under this Freedom Caucus-pushed concept, the House would pass two stopgap funding packages. One would extend four relatively non-controversial spending bills until early December. The second package would extend funding for the other eight bills until mid-January.
In theory, this would force the House and Senate into a negotiation over all 12 funding bills. It’s also meant to prevent the Senate from sending an omnibus to the House ahead of the Christmas break.
Republican senators — even the most seasoned appropriators — had no idea what a “laddered CR” even was before Monday. They’re less than thrilled about it now that they know.
“It seems to me that you would just constantly be having programs and agencies stop and go, stop and go,” Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top GOP appropriator, told us. “And so I think that would increase the difficulty.”
2) Clean, with no supplemental. Another idea under consideration is to extend government funding until January — which Johnson pitched to Senate Republicans — but separately negotiate on the $100 billion-plus supplemental spending requests dealing with the border, Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan. This has the benefit of being a clean CR, which is easy for the Senate to accept. But leaving aside the supplemental money will be very tricky.
3) Negotiate with the Senate. One option that Johnson is floating internally — and it seems like the least likely to us — is to have House Republicans try to see if they can get a CR deal with the Senate while still working to pass individual spending bills.
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Under a laddered CR, agencies that have drawn Republican animosity - such as the DOJ, would be on a longer funding timeline, while departments with more widespread support, such as Veterans Affairs, would receive a shorter deadline, Bloomberg reports.
Does it have a chance?
The Democratic reaction to the stopgap proposal will hinge on whether Republicans demand offsetting spending cuts or other policy provisions. House Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-CA) wasn't too hot on the idea.
"Sounds like they want multiple shutdowns spread out over different calendar years," he said.
Rep. Bob Good (R-VA), a member of the Freedom Caucus, said "We’ll focus on passing our spending bills. And if we need a little bit of time on that, I think you’ll see very short spending bills with some leverage points put in there for wins for the American people."
Johnson and party leaders will meet Tuesday morning behind closed doors to discuss options, with the intention of averting the internal dissent that tripped up Kevin McCarthy.
McCarthy in September was unable to get enough Republican votes for a stopgap that would have temporarily cut spending by 30% while making changes to immigration policies. In the face of an imminent shutdown, he allowed the House to pass a 48-day funding bill with Democratic support.
Some lawmakers said they were eager to have the House vote on a stopgap to prevent the looming shutdown. -Bloomberg
According to Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI), "We’ve got to get on it, like now."