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Republicans approve one more budget delay

The House speaker says he has a plan, but not all GOP lawmakers support it

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La. Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite

Republicans approve one more budget delay

For a fourth time, the House of Representatives has averted a partial government shutdown that would have kicked in on Friday by extending last year’s spending levels. The vote passed 320-99 on Thursday as GOP leaders said they made headway on legislation to fund the government for the remainder of 2024’s fiscal year.

“We are in agreement that Congress must work in a bipartisan manner to fund our government,” U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a joint statement with Democratic leaders on Wednesday afternoon. “Negotiators have come to an agreement on six bills. These bills will adhere to the Fiscal Responsibility Act discretionary spending limits and January’s topline spending agreement.

It’s a start.

By passing the temporary funding, Johnson has bought himself a week to put the plan into action. Some agencies will receive funding until March 8 and others through March 22.

While most Republican House members don’t want a shutdown—even a partial one—many have also voiced opposition to any package that compromises conservative priorities to accommodate Democrats.

“I don’t intend to support it,” said Bob Good, R-Va., chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Instead of using Johnson’s plan, Good has called for House Republicans to pass a yearlong continuing resolution. Its implementation would trigger a 1 percent reduction in the government’s nondiscretionary spending—a provision put in place as a contingency by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year in case Democrats stonewalled spending legislation. Members of the Freedom Caucus argue that’s a better position to take than negotiating the 12 appropriations bills with Democrats.

Some Republicans want the bills to include policy riders like defunding Planned Parenthood, additional border security, and other measures that Democrats consider poison pills.

“Well, we ought to adequately be funding homeland security. For agents, for detention beds,” said Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss. “Of course, personally, I’d like to see new wall construction, don’t know whether that’s in there or not. To me, as a Republican who serves on the Homeland Security Committee, that to me is my top priority.”

The bills that Johnson has already negotiated would fund agriculture, Veterans Affairs, energy, water, transportation, commerce, justice, science, and urban development, and would account for roughly half of the spending needed in 2024.

The second tranche, due March 22 would include more contentious areas of funding: defense, financial services, foreign operations, and more. Neither set of bills is expected to decrease government spending dramatically, and they would only last until September.

To Johnson, the substance of the bills matters less than the process used to pass them—something House Republicans have long wanted to reform. They argue that passing single-subject bills would improve transparency in government spending compared to the mammoth omnibus bills approved in recent years, which were thousands of pages long and negotiated by party leaders.

Jared Pincin, associate professor of economics at Cedarville University, said going back to individual spending bills would be the first major reform to the appropriations process in 40 years.

“I think that Republicans rightfully see the appropriations process as something that’s important,” Pincin said. But at this point, he has questions about the utility of continuing to press for that to happen this year. If negotiations on the remaining bills fall through, he said, Republicans might be better served by starting work on next year’s bills.

“We’re halfway through the year. At some point you just have to work with what you have,” Pincin said.

Leo Briceno

Leo is a WORLD politics reporter based in Washington, D.C. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and has a degree in political journalism from Patrick Henry College.


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