WASHINGTON ― Democrats are open to a temporary government funding proposal from House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), lowering the prospects of a government shutdown this week.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said in a letter to his colleagues Monday that the Democratic leadership team is “carefully reviewing” Johnson’s proposal, which would extend current funding levels for some federal agencies into January, and for others into February.
Jeffries noted that Johnson had jettisoned his “laddered” funding proposal that would have staggered agency funding in a more piecemeal fashion, setting up a cascading series of funding deadlines.
“While House Republicans have abandoned a laddered funding approach with multiple expiration dates, we remain concerned with the bifurcation of the continuing resolution in January and February 2024,” Jeffries said. “In addition, the failure of House Republicans to address the national security and domestic supplemental funding priorities of the American people is also troublesome.”
Jeffries said Democrats oppose spending cuts and “extreme right wing policy positions” ― things that Johnson omitted from his “continuing resolution,” to the disappointment of some far-right Republicans who said they would vote against the measure.
Notably, Jeffries did not say he opposed the resolution.
“We will proceed this week through the lens of making progress for everyday Americans by continuing to put people over politics,” Jeffries said.
If significant numbers of Democrats support the resolution, then it would easily pass, and the big question would be whether Republican hardliners move to oust Johnson from the speaker’s office like they ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) after he funded the government with Democratic votes in September.
Johnson’s funding bill is by no means a sop to Democrats, since it omits key priorities, namely extra military aid for Israel and Ukraine. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the proposal “a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns,” though the White House has not issued a veto threat.
A key question will be whether GOP hardliners block Johnson’s resolution in the House Rules Committee on Monday evening. The committee is typically a bill or resolution’s last stop before it moves to the House floor for a vote. If Republicans block the measure in Rules, Johnson could still move the bill to the floor under what’s known as a “suspension of the rules.” Such a move would require a supermajority for the bill to pass, and would likely antagonize the restive right-wingers in the House GOP even more than a regular vote.
“That would be a very bad idea,” conservative Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a member of the Rules Committee, told reporters on Monday.