A stopgap bill has been passed by House lawmakers in order to prevent the government from shutting down. After a continuing resolution was passed in September, funding for the government was due to run out by November 17 if the House could not agree on a yearly budget. However, this stopgap bill simply postpones further fighting over the budget until after the holidays, while allowing the government to run in the meantime.
The Yearly Budget
House Republicans have been struggling to agree on a yearly budget, with more far-right members of the party angling to include more extreme spending cuts that are unlikely to pass in the Senate. As the GOP’s majority in the lower chamber is very small, it only takes a couple of dissenting Republicans to hold up legislation.
Voting on the Stopgap
The overall vote for the stopgap was 336-95, with 127 Republicans and 209 Democrats voting in favor. 93 Republicans opposed the bill, whereas just two Democrats rejected it. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), who introduced the bill, declared that they “just had to get the job done” after the vote.
The Extent of the Bill
The bill, dubbed a laddered continuing resolution, will fund the Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs Departments through January 19, and other remaining government sectors — including the Defense Department — through February 2.
The continuing resolution that Johnson passed is similar to the one that the former House speaker Kevin McCarthy passed which ultimately resulted in his removal from the position. Several far-right Representatives, such as those in the House Freedom Caucus, opposed McCarthy using Democratic support to pass the bill — which is exactly what Johnson resorted to as well.
The Bill Content
The continuing resolution does not contain any spending cuts or policy provisions that could prove contentious and polarizing to Democrats. There is no supplemental package providing aid for Israel and Ukraine in their ongoing wars or any further humanitarian assistance and border security provisions.
Democrats leaned their support to the bill shortly before the vote, explaining that they 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,” before concluding, “the continuing resolution before the House today meets that criteria and we will support it.”
A Much-Needed Break
Subsequently, House lawmakers will be able to take some time off for the holidays and put intense debates on hold as they try to renegotiate a broader budget. Johnson shared that “members have been here… for 10 weeks. This place is a pressure cooker,” adding that “everybody can go home, we can come back, reset… We’re going to map out that plan to fight for those principles.”
The Freedom Caucus
The House Freedom Caucus reiterated its position on laddered continuing resolutions and slammed Johnson’s stopgap bill, complaining that it “contains no spending reductions, no border security, and not a single meaningful win for the American people.”
Picking Their Battles
Johnson defended his decision, arguing that “we are not surrendering, we are fighting. But you have to be wise about choosing the fights. You got to fight the fights you can win.”
A Different Fate
Despite this, Republicans are not looking to expel the House speaker and are largely attributing the blame to McCarthy. “Speaker Johnson has been on the job for what, two or three weeks now?” stated Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) who voted against the former speaker. “The reason why speaker Johnson finds himself in the position he is in is because of nine months of failure under speaker McCarthy.”
Chances of Survival
Rep. Tim Burchett, also part of the “Hateful Eight” Republicans who voted to evict McCarthy, agreed that McCarthy had been granted much more time in comparison to Johnson. He expressed his view that people will be “unhappy and uncomfortable” with Johnson’s continuing resolution, but that Johnson is “going to be a great speaker” who has a strong chance of surviving the election next year.
Many online forum commenters were appalled by the GOP’s tactic of keeping government funding alive through continuing resolutions. “Stopgap funding every sixty days? Sounds like Republicans want the threat of a shutdown to be constant,” one person suggested, adding that it has become “legislative terrorism now.”
A Party of Extremists
Others believed that this development reflects the changing landscape inside the Republican Party. “I hate using this word, but ‘fascism’ is the only way to describe them now. They’re all extremists,” someone explained, adding that “the party has changed significantly from what it was 20 years ago.”
Fights With Dems
One person speculated that Republicans simply “want new negotiations, and new concessions every 60 days.” Another concurred that “they don’t have a platform. They just want to battle over the specifics of the budget every so often by holding a functioning government like a baby near a balcony. They can’t throw the baby over, but nobody wants to deal with the stress of someone pretending they’re gonna toss a baby.”
Forcing a Shutdown
Another commenter proposed that a federal government shutdown is still the GOP’s ultimate endgame. “Their goal is probably to force a shutdown, but just do it closer to the election so that they have an easier time blaming Biden,” one poster said.
Predicting the Budget
One forum user attempted to predict the contents of the eventual budget, guessing that “it will be something that hurts people, increases the national debt while also causing suffering and have zero chance at passing, and their strategy will be to blame the Democrats for not passing it once the government does shut down.”
The Party of Chaos
Overall, the consensus was that House Republicans cannot do their jobs and according to one user, have nothing to offer but “more chaos” for the American people.