Sunday, June 23, 2024

On Tuesday, Speaker Mike Johnson had to rely on Democratic votes in order to get the House to pass legislation to continue federal funding until early 2024. Despite opposition from Republicans, the bill was approved under special procedures requiring a supermajority. The final vote was 336 to 95, passing the bill easily. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expects the Senate to pass the legislation and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk in the coming days.

The bill will fund federal agencies through early next year and avert a government shutdown at the end of the week. However, its passage only buys Congress a few more months before facing the same problem again. The legislation does not include any military aid to Israel and Ukraine, but would fund government programs at current spending levels until Jan. 19 and Feb. 2.

These developments are a significant victory for Johnson, who was determined to avoid a government shutdown despite limited political will and support from the House Republicans. In his first major test as speaker, Johnson positioned himself as a bipartisan leader, aiming to escape a potential shutdown by bridging the divide between Democrats and Republicans. Despite this, some hard-line conservatives were unhappy with Johnson’s approach, hoping for lower spending levels and policy riders in the bill.

In their statements before the vote, Democrats expressed their relief that a shutdown had been avoided and that funding for federal programs had not been cut or tied to new policy measures. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy previously used similar strategies to avert a shutdown, ultimately leading to his ouster. Much like McCarthy, Johnson faced opposition from hard-right Republicans who were displeased with his reliance on Democrats to pass the bill. Despite assurances from Johnson, some conservatives and the House Freedom Caucus made it clear that they expected bolder changes.

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