Friday 3 November 2023

Speaker Johnson Floats ‘Laddered’ Stop-Gap Measure To Avert Government Shutdown

 Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) shared a novel approach to keeping the federal government funded while a politically-divided Congress works to reach an agreement on spending legislation.

During a press conference on Thursday, Johnson said “it’s yet to be determined” on whether the House has a path to averting the government shutdown that could happen in two weeks upon the expiration of a 45-day continuing resolution (CR).

“I think everyone here recognizes that just because we’re running out of time that we may not get all this done by November 17th. As quickly as removing the approps bills here, the Senate’s a little behind and obviously, we have the conference committee process and all of that,” Johnson said.

“So there’s a growing recognition that we are going to need another stop-gap funding measure,” Johnson added. “I’ve made clear that my initial idea was to extend that to January 15th to get us beyond the sort of the Christmas rush and the things that typically jam us in the House. I think there’s, there’s some good arguments for that.”

Johnson said some of his colleagues have offered ideas too, and he divulged one unique proposal for a “laddered CR” that he heard earlier in the morning.

“I’ll unpack for you what that means here in the coming days,” he said, adding that it would entail a “CR that extends individual” appropriations bills. “We’ll see how that goes. I think we can build consensus around it,” he added.

In the meantime, the House has been busy working on passing individual appropriations bills, Johnson said. He noted the House is on pace to pass eight of 12 pieces of fiscal 2024 spending legislation for various facets of the federal government by “fly out” on Friday, and he said lawmakers will endeavor to “finish the job” over the next two weeks.

Democrats appeared somewhat mystified by the “laddered CR” approach.


“I don’t understand what a laddered CR is. Some agencies are in better standing, apparently, according to the House Republican Conference,” said Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-CA) during a separate news conference.

Regardless of what the House does, it will have to settle any differences with the Democrat-led Senate. On Wednesday, the upper chamber passed a “minibus” of three appropriations bills with bipartisan support.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the GOP-controlled House is going through a futile exercise of passing partisan appropriations bills that have no input or support from Democrats. They’re going nowhere.”

Both the House and Senate are also considering aid for Israel, Ukraine, border security, and more, as requested by the Biden administration.

Though the White House and some lawmakers favor combining Israel and Ukraine assistance, Johnson has preached “fiscal responsibility” as he pushes for a stand-alone Israel assistance measure that would offset $14.3 billion with the same amount taken away from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The speaker told reporters on Thursday that Ukraine will “come next” and suggested it could be paired with border security. Johnson said he believes a bipartisan agreement can be reached on those issues.

In addition, Johnson said he has some “great candidates” in mind to lead his proposed debt commission and hopes for bipartisan, bicameral participation.

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