Democrats show openness to plan to avoid closure while Republicans resist | ET REALITY

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President Mike Johnson’s proposal to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week ran into growing opposition Monday from hardline Republicans. But as Democratic opposition weakened, it looked like the plan could be headed toward bipartisan approval within days.

The shifting alliances came as the House planned to take its first action on the bill on Tuesday. The legislation would fund federal agencies through early 2024 with two staggered deadlines, giving lawmakers time to try to finalize annual spending bills and postpone a debate on wartime aid to Israel and Ukraine.

It was reminiscent of the situation in the House about six weeks ago. Kevin McCarthy, the speaker at the time, faced right-wing opposition to a measure to keep federal funds flowing and was forced to turn to Democrats to push for a temporary extension. The move cost McCarthy his job as president.

But Johnson, who is much more conservative than McCarthy, was not expected to face similar pushback from Republicans, who are not eager to repeat the dysfunction and paralysis that followed the ouster of their last president.

Funding for federal agencies will expire at midnight Friday if Congress does not extend the deadline again. In seeking a solution, Johnson, the Louisianan who took office as president a few weeks ago, has faced the same dynamic as McCarthy: Hardline conservatives would not support an extension of spending without deep cuts or conservative policy provisions. aggregate. But such a measure failed to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, forcing him to turn to Democrats for help.

Leaders of the far-right bloc of House Republicans criticized the proposal because it would temporarily keep spending at levels set late last year, when Democrats controlled the House, Senate and White House, without new conditions. .

“I will not support a status quo that recognizes fiscal irresponsibility and changes absolutely nothing while emboldening a do-nothing Senate and a fiscally illiterate president,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., leader of the hardline group Freedom. Caucuses. , he wrote on the social network X.

Another member of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, wrote: “We simply cannot continue funding the radical policies and inflated spending levels of Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.”

Opposition within his own party caused Johnson to seek Democratic votes for his proposal. He would fund a suite of federal programs, including military and veteran construction programs, agriculture, transportation, housing, and energy and water development, through Jan. 19. The Pentagon and all other federal programs would be funded through February 2.

Top Democrats were unhappy with the complicated approach but saw the plan, known as continuing resolution, or CR, as potentially the surest way to avoid a shutdown in the short time left before the deadline.

“I am pleased that President Johnson appears to be moving in our direction by promoting a CR that does not include the highly partisan cuts that Democrats have warned against,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said before the Senate. called on Monday.

In another encouraging sign for the legislation, Schumer postponed a planned vote on an alternative funding mechanism that the Senate was set to adopt, saying it would “allow the House to act first on its proposal.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, said in a letter to fellow House Democrats that leadership was “carefully evaluating the proposal” and remained “concerned about the bifurcation of the continuing resolution in January and February.” 2024.” The proposal did not contain the kind of far-right political provisions that would have made the plan a flop among House Democrats, although Jeffries noted that it made no progress on aid to Ukraine and Israel.

The White House has criticized Johnson’s proposal, but President Biden on Monday declined to comment on whether he would veto the plan if it reached his desk.

“Let’s wait and see what they come up with,” Biden told reporters at the White House.

Johnson may need Democratic help beyond getting the bill passed. Republicans could oppose the procedural steps needed to introduce the bill. That would require Democrats to bail out the president on that vote as well, even though the minority party is typically reluctant to produce votes on procedural issues for the majority.

Given Republican resistance to the legislation and Democratic unease about helping with the procedural effort, Republican leadership moved Monday night to bring the spending bill to the floor under a maneuver that circumvents the need for the initial procedural vote. . Instead, the bill would be introduced through a shortcut known as suspension of the rules, but would require a two-thirds majority, or 290 votes, to pass. The last interim bill that averted a shutdown was passed under the same process on September 30.

The move by Republican leaders showed they expected a substantial number of Democrats to join Republicans in backing the legislation.

Rep. Chip Roy, an ultraconservative Republican from Texas who opposes the measure, said he did not want to address whether the legislation could spark a challenge to Johnson, considering the circumstances were nearly identical to those that led to McCarthy’s ouster.

“I don’t want to go down that path,” he said. “What we’re talking about now is the need to do our job and do it the right way.” Roy praised Johnson for seeking ideas from across the spectrum of House Republicans.

“He’s been listening to everyone,” Mr. Roy said. “I congratulate him for that. “I just think this is the wrong approach and I cannot support it.”

Other Republicans said Johnson was making the right decision.

“Extending funding from the previous fiscal year is never an ideal way to govern, but the alternative is even worse,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., chairman of the Rules Committee. “We owe it to our constituents to keep the government open and operational to continue providing them with the services they need and deserve.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader, also lent his support to the legislation.

“House Republicans have crafted a responsible measure that will keep the lights on, avoid a damaging disruption to government funding, and provide the time and space to finish that important work,” he said.

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