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House Speaker Mike Johnson’s unorthodox proposal to avoid a government shutdown drew sharp criticism over the weekend, with some signs it may yet pass.
Johnson, a Louisiana Republican who took the top House job just last month, wants to fund some government agencies until Jan. 19 and others until Feb. 2, an unusual approach dubbed a “laddered” continuing resolution.
Both hard-right lawmakers and the White House bashed the idea, with Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) tweeting: “My opposition to the clean CR just announced by the Speaker to the @HouseGOP cannot be overstated.
“Funding Pelosi level spending & policies for 75 days – for future ‘promises,’” he added.
Conservatives have long loathed temporary budget measures known as continuing resolutions.
The White Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed Johnson’s proposal as “a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns — full stop.”
“House Republicans need to stop wasting time on their own political divisions, do their jobs, and work in a bipartisan way to prevent a shutdown,” she said Saturday, the day Johnson unveiled his proposal.
Last month, the House passed temporary spending measures that ended up costing Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) the Speaker job. Hardline conservatives blasted the approach for omitting spending cuts and stronger security at the U.S. border with Mexico
Under Johnson’s “laddered” approach, funding for veterans programs, transportation, housing, agriculture and energy would be extended until Jan. 19. Bills covering areas including defense and diplomacy would be extended until Feb. 2. There’s no funding for aid to Israel and Ukraine or for the border, as President Biden has requested.
“This two-step continuing resolution is a necessary bill to place House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories,” Johnson said Saturday.
“The bill will stop the absurd holiday-season omnibus tradition of massive, loaded up spending bills introduced right before the Christmas recess.”
Some lawmakers suggested Johnson’s approach is just too complicated.
“We are going to pass a clean short-term [spending bill]. The only question is whether we do it stupidly and catastrophically or we do it like adults. There’s nothing inherently conservative about making simple things super convoluted,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told the Wall Street Journal.
Still, Johnson is expected to need Democratic support to see the measures through.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) described the proposal as “gimmicky” but suggested he and other Dems might get on board with it.
“This is no way to run a railroad. We shouldn’t be in the position of having to pass multiple continuing resolutions,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“The priority has to be keeping the government open,” he continued. “Reasonable people in the Senate, and that’s where most of the reasonable people are these days, have to make sure that we are not making the perfect the enemy of the good.
“I don’t like what the House is talking about, but I’m willing to listen.”
If no deal is reached, a government shutdown begins this Friday.
Hard-right lawmakers have signaled they’re willing to work with Johnson as his speakership gets underway.
“Look, you get a honeymoon. And they can’t go through it again,” McCarthy said in a CNN interview aired Sunday, referring to the torturous process of replacing him in the fall.
“Who are you going to replace him with?”
With News Wire Services