The United States House of Representatives today voted to keep the federal government open for several more months after new Speaker Mike Johnson orchestrated a vote on a stopgap spending bill not weighed down with an ultra MAGA wishlist of policy riders that the Senate and President Biden would oppose.
Though they were previously not enthusiastic about Johnson’s plan to avert a shutdown, Democrats provided most of the votes for the legislation, with the Republican caucus significantly split, just as it was back in September when ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy made a similar move at the eleventh hour in order to avert a shutdown that would be politically costly to Republicans.
127 Republicans voted yea along with 209 Democrats.
93 Republicans voted nay along with two Democrats. The Democrats voting nay were Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts and Mike Quigley of Illinois.
Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Kevin Mullin of California missed the vote, as did Republican Mike Ezell of Mississippi.
The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:
Voting Yea to keep the federal government open: Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Marilyn Strickland (WA), Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Val Hoyle, and Andrea Salinas (OR), Mary Peltola (AK); Republican Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse (WA), Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR), Mike Simpson (ID)
Voting Nay to shut down the federal government: Republican Representatives Russ Fulcher (ID), Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke (MT)
Of the PNW delegation, only the three most ultra MAGA Republicans from Montana and Idaho voted to shut down the federal government.
The bill’s official summary, provided by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, known as CRS for short, is as follows:
This bill provides continuing FY2024 appropriations for federal agencies and extends several expiring programs and authorities.
It is known as a continuing resolution (CR) and prevents a government shutdown that would otherwise occur if the FY2024 appropriations bills have not been enacted when the existing CR expires on November 17, 2023.
The CR generally funds most programs and activities at the FY 2023 levels with several exceptions that provide funding flexibility and additional appropriations for various programs.
The CR provides funding through January 19, 2024, for agencies and programs that were funded in the following four FY 2023 appropriations acts:
- the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023;
- the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023;
- the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023; and
- the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023.
For most other federal agencies and programs, the CR provides funding through February 2, 2024.
The CR also extends several programs and authorities, including
- programs authorized by the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly known as the 2018 farm bill),
- several public health programs and authorities,
- the U.S. Parole Commission, and
- the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.
“The passage of today’s continuing resolution puts House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative policy victories,” argued Speaker Mike Johnson in a statement. “The innovative two-step approach takes Washington’s preferred Christmas omnibus monstrosity off the table, shifts the government funding paradigm moving forward, and enhances our ability to rein in the Biden administration’s failed policies and government spending. We also are better positioned in the upcoming supplemental debate to demand Border Security, ensure oversight of Ukraine aid, and support our cherished ally, Israel.”
As Johnson’s statement alludes to, the continuing resolution doesn’t include aid for Ukraine or Israel, which are priorities for the Biden-Harris administration.
But it does stave off a government shutdown for a while.
“From the very beginning of the Congress, House Democrats have made clear that we will always put people over politics and try to find common ground with our Republican colleagues wherever possible, while pushing back against Republican extremism whenever necessary,” said House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu in a joint statement.
“That is the framework through which we will evaluate all issues before us this Congress. We have consistently made clear that a government shutdown would hurt the economy, our national security and everyday Americans during a very fragile time and must be avoided,” the quartet added.
“To that end, House Democrats have repeatedly articulated that any continuing resolution must be set at the fiscal year 2023 spending level, be devoid of harmful cuts and free of extreme right-wing policy riders. The continuing resolution before the House today meets that criteria and we will support it.”
“Moving forward, it is important that Congress comes together to advance the supplemental national security and domestic policy funding requested by President Joe Biden. In addition, it is time for House Republicans to finally work with the Democratic Caucus and the Senate on all twelve appropriations bills in a manner consistent with the Bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act.”
“We must complete the work of the American people,” they concluded.
The Senate is expected to concur and send the legislation to President Biden.
If you’re wondering whether the extreme right is unhappy with their new Speaker over this, the answer is yes. But having just ousted McCarthy, which caused weeks of paralysis, and having now had no success advancing their shutdown agenda as a result of that maneuver, they’re not plotting Johnson’s downfall.
At least not yet.
“Many House conservatives are fuming that Johnson — the most ideologically conservative speaker in decades — refused to take a hard line in his first attempt negotiating with Democrats and instead leaned on them for help,” Politico reported. “In the end, more Democrats voted for the measure than Republicans, in nearly identical numbers to the September stopgap measure that triggered McCarthy’s firing. Some tore into his strategy in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, arguing that his plan, which would allow funding levels set under Nancy Pelosi to persist for months, is tantamount to surrender.”
Only an unhinged extremist would argue that simply keeping the federal government open for a few more weeks at previously adopted funding levels is “tantamount to surrender.” But it’s 2023 and this is sadly the environment Congress is attempting to function in. It’s disappointing and pathetic.