House Passes CR To Keep Government Open Until Early 2024

House Passes CR To Keep Government Open Until Early 2024

The House easily passed a new Continuing Resolution today to keep the government operating after Friday.  The situation unfolded just like the last shutdown crisis, with Democrats deciding to support legislation introduced by the Speaker of the House, providing enough votes for it to pass despite Republican opposition. The bill now goes to the Senate where Democrats and Republicans have signalled  support.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA)

Introduced on Saturday by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), Democrats on Capitol Hill and at the White House were initially derisive because it extends funding on a “laddered” basis. Four of the 12 appropriations bills will be extended until January 19, while the others run until February 2.

The bill that funds the FAA and its Office of Commercial Space Transportation (Transportation-HUD) is in the former category. Those that fund NASA and NOAA (Commerce-Justice-Science) and national security (Defense) are in the latter.

By yesterday, Democrats were adopting a more positive tone. Although the bill does not include funding for Israel or Ukraine, it also does not require deep spending cuts or contain anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ or anti-diversity provisions.  It’s a “clean” CR and, to avoid a shutdown, they are willing to accept the novel double expiration dates even if that might result in rolling shutdowns early next year if the regular FY2024 appropriations bills aren’t enacted by then. Many Senate Democrats and Republicans wanted to extend funding only until mid-December with the goal of passing all the regular FY2024 appropriations bills before the end of the year, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are supporting the House bill.

In one sense this is a significant victory for Johnson, who has only been in the job for three weeks. But he is out of step with the House Freedom Caucus with which he is closely aligned. He got the bill passed by relying on Democratic votes just like his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), did on September 30. Like McCarthy, Johnson brought the bill up under suspension and just like before more Democrats than Republicans voted for it. Bills on the suspension calendar need a two-thirds vote instead of a simply majority to pass, but avoid the Rules Committee.

The vote today was 336-95, with 209 Democrats and 127 Republican voting yes, and 93 Republicans and 2 Democrats voting no. On September 30, it was 335-91, with 209 Democrats and 126 Republicans voting yes, and 90 Republicans and one Democrat voting no.

Vote on H.R. 6363, Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, November 14, 2023. Source: Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Members of the HFC ousted McCarthy as Speaker three days later for working with the Democrats. After three weeks of Republican infighting during which no legislative business could take place, they chose Johnson as his replacement. How they will react to his decision to work with the Democrats remains to be seen.

Politico quotes Johnson as making the argument that “I can’t turn an aircraft carrier overnight” and this is a “very important first step to get us to the next stage, so that we can change how Washington works.”

For the government, today’s outcome was good news even if another CR means agencies are held to their FY2023 spending levels and new programs cannot begin or old ones be terminated for several more weeks until the FY2024 bills are finalized. Funding for Ukraine and Israel also remains in limbo. But as long as the Senate passes the new CR and the President signs it into law by midnight Friday, the government will continue working uninterrupted through the holiday season.

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