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Johnson Pitches Bill to Avert Government Shutdown That Faces an Uncertain Fate


Speaker Mike Johnson on Saturday pitched House Republicans on a convoluted plan to avert a government shutdown at the end of next week, proposing a bill that would temporarily extend funding for some federal agencies until late January and for others through early February.

The measure faces an uncertain fate in Congress. Many conservative House Republicans have demanded that any spending plan include deep spending cuts, and Democrats and some G.O.P. senators have sharply questioned the idea of bifurcating federal programs and staggering the deadlines for funding them.

A vote on the plan could come as early as Tuesday, just days before the Friday midnight deadline for keeping the government funded.

Setting two different end dates in what Mr. Johnson is calling a “two-step continuing resolution” was an effort to allay the concerns of hard-right lawmakers who have long railed against the now-routine practice of funding the entire government through one mammoth bill. Some members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus have endorsed the two-step idea in recent days.

“With just days left before an extreme Republican shutdown — and after shutting down Congress for three weeks after they ousted their own leader — House Republicans are wasting precious time with an unserious proposal that has been panned by members of both parties,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

If all Democrats were present and opposed the plan, Mr. Johnson could afford to lose no more than four Republican votes. He conceded during the conference call held on Saturday that his measure likely would not receive unanimous backing from Republicans, according to people familiar with his remarks in the private call who described them on the condition of anonymity.

Already one Republican, Representative Chip Roy of Texas, has declared that he would oppose the plan because it would continue current spending levels with no changes or conditions — what is known in Washington shorthand as a “clean” funding extension.

“It’s 100% clean,” Mr. Roy wrote on social media. “And I 100% oppose.”

Mr. Johnson’s predecessor as speaker, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, was ousted from his job last month after it became clear he could not pass a stopgap spending bill with Republican votes alone and he instead relied on Democrats to pass legislation to avert a shutdown.

But Mr. Johnson’s internal standing in the Republican conference is very different than Mr. McCarthy’s was at the time.

The hard-right members of the Freedom Caucus who ousted Mr. McCarthy have repeatedly said that they are prepared to give Mr. Johnson more latitude in spending negotiations than they gave to Mr. McCarthy. They trust his conservative bona fides in a way they never trusted Mr. McCarthy’s, and also acknowledge that Mr. Johnson only took office less than three weeks ago, leaving him little time to prepare for a spending showdown with the Senate and White House.

In the Senate, lawmakers in both parties on the powerful Appropriations Committee have expressed skepticism about the idea of a funding plan with staggered deadlines. Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington and the panel’s chairwoman, told Roll Call earlier in the week that such an idea was “the craziest, stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the panel, said a “stop and go” plan would “increase the difficulty” of funding the government.

But the legislation also does not include any spending cuts or conservative policies that congressional Democrats have publicly warned Mr. Johnson against including.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, cautioned on Thursday that “hard-right proposals, hard-right slashing cuts, hard-right poison pills that have zero support from Democrats will only make a shutdown more likely.”

“I hope they don’t go down that path in the week to come,” Mr. Schumer said.

The House Rules Committee is set to take up the legislation on Monday afternoon, setting up a vote on the House floor as early as Tuesday.


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