House passes bill to avert government shutdown, Speaker Johnson notches first big legislative win


The House of Representatives passed a bill to avert a pre-holiday season government shutdown on Tuesday night along strong bipartisan lines.

It passed 336 to 95, well over the two-thirds margin it needed to get the measure over the line. Just two Democrats voted against the bill, along with 93 Republicans. 

It’s now headed to the Democratically-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., indicated he would take it up as soon as possible. 

Fiscal year 2023 government funding had been extended through Nov. 17 to give Congress more time to pass 12 individual appropriations bills setting up the next year’s spending priorities. But faced with another looming deadline, House and Senate leaders agreed another short-term extension, known as a continuing resolution (CR), was needed.

The bill’s passage was the first big legislative test for Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who took on the role less than a month ago shortly after ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was ousted. 

Despite more Democrats voting for it than Republicans, Johnson did net a win in getting a majority of his GOP Conference to support the CR.

Johnson’s plan, released on Saturday, creates two separate deadlines for funding different parts of the government to set up more targeted goals to work toward.

It would also in theory prevent Congress from lumping all 12 spending bills into a massive ‘omnibus’ package, such as the one passed by House and Senate Democrats last year but opposed by the GOP.

It first forces lawmakers to reckon with some of the traditionally less controversial appropriations bills — those concerning military construction and Veterans Affairs; Agriculture; Energy and Water; Transportation and Housing and Urban Development — by Jan. 19. The remaining eight appropriations bills must be worked out by Feb. 2.

But members on the right of Johnson’s GOP conference balked at the bill over its lack of any spending cuts and conservative policy riders. 

However, it’s been tacitly approved by Senate leaders — meaning Johnson’s first major act as speaker likely will avert a government shutdown, if President Biden signs on.

‘Both [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.] and I want to avoid a shutdown — so getting this done, obviously, before Friday midnight,’ Schumer said at a press conference on Tuesday.

‘You know, the Senate has lots of arcane rules, but McConnell and I are going to work together — we talked about this yesterday — to get it done as quickly as possible.’

Democrats had been wary of Johnson’s decision to split up funding deadlines, but overall the majority appeared relieved to not be forced to vote for a CR that tops out below fiscal 2023 funding levels.

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