Congress is barreling toward a government shutdown this week as Friday’s funding deadline inches closer, with House Republicans at odds over Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) pitch to keep the lights on in Washington.
Johnson unveiled an unconventional two-step stopgap bill over the weekend, which would extend funding at current levels for some agencies until mid-January and the rest through early February. That proposal, however, is already dividing the fractious House GOP conference, with some hard-line conservatives voicing opposition to the legislation because of the lack of spending cuts.
Top Democrats, meanwhile, have criticized Johnson’s plan, taking aim at the “laddered” approach and denouncing the lack of aid for Israel or Ukraine in the legislation. Congress has just five days to avert a shutdown.
Across the Capitol, the Senate will hold a procedural vote for its own legislation to avert a shutdown this week, moving a legislative vehicle that will be used for an eventual stopgap bill.
Aside from funding the government, the House this week will weigh in on a resolution to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) moved to force a vote on the legislation last week. And lawmakers are bracing for an update regarding the House Ethics Committee’s investigation into Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), which will likely lead to a third effort to expel him from office.
Johnson eyes two-step stopgap to avert shutdown
The House is slated to take up Johnson’s “laddered” continuing resolution this week, marking the newly minted Speaker’s first attempt at averting a shutdown days out from the funding deadline.
The effort to fund the government marks a big test for Johnson, who assumed the Speakership less than one month ago, after eight Republicans joined with Democrats to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the top job in part because of his handling of the government funding process.
Johnson’s proposal would extend funding at current levels until Jan. 19 for government programs and agencies under appropriations bills pertaining to agriculture, rural development and the Food and Drug Administration; energy and water development; military construction and Veterans Affairs; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. Funding for the other agencies and programs would be extended to Feb. 2.
A number of conservatives had initially endorsed the “laddered” continuing resolution approach, which is seen by many as a way to avoid an end-of-year omnibus funding bill and encourage Congress to work through the regular appropriations process. But despite Johnson using that framework, some members of the right flank are coming out against his proposal because it does not include spending cuts and instead funds the government at current levels.
Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) and Greene have already said they will not support the plan, making matters more difficult for Johnson as he looks to avert a shutdown.
“My opposition to the clean CR just announced by the Speaker to the @HouseGOP cannot be overstated. Funding Pelosi level spending & policies for 75 days – for future ‘promises,’” Roy wrote Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Top Democrats, meanwhile, have also criticized the legislation. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, slammed Johnson’s plan in a fiery statement, arguing that his approach “is setting up a system that will double the number of shutdown showdowns.” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the proposal “extreme.”
It remains unclear, however, how the entire Democratic caucus is viewing the laddered continuing resolution. Depending on how many Republicans oppose the legislation, a handful of Democratic votes could help get it over the finish line.
Democratic leadership has not yet put out its recommendation for how to vote on the measure.
Senate readies effort to stave off shutdown
The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote on a legislative vehicle for a stopgap funding bill this week, kicking off the process of averting a government shutdown in the upper chamber.
The move comes as the House remains divided on how to avoid a shutdown by Friday’s funding deadline. But what exactly the Senate’s plan will look like remains unclear.
Top appropriators in the upper chamber have talked about moving the remaining nine spending bills altogether in what has been described as a “megabus.” The Senate approved its first three spending bills earlier this month as a “minibus.”
Leading Senate Democrats, on the other hand, are pushing for a stopgap bill that would extend funding until just before Christmas, which would grant them an opportunity to try and pass a larger fiscal 2024 bill.
“Over the next few days, Democrats will continue talking to Republicans about finding a path forward on avoiding a shutdown that both sides support, and I earnestly hope we can reach agreement sooner rather than later,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last week.
At the same time, a bipartisan group of senators are continuing talks on a border security package as the chamber works through the roughly $100 billion supplemental request the White House unveiled last month, which includes funding for Israel, Ukraine, the border and allies in the Indo-Pacific.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republican senators have said GOP members will not back aid for Ukraine unless it is paired with a border security package. But deep divisions between the two parties on the polarizing issue of the border is making matters more difficult.
Republicans, for example, want conversations to focus on the border, while Democrats are asking that any package pertain to the border in addition to measures that would allow individuals to immigrate into the country.
House to act on Mayorkas impeachment resolution
The House this week is slated to act on a resolution to impeach Mayorkas after Greene moved to force a vote on the legislation.
The resolution accuses Mayorkas of “willful admittance of border crossers,” argues that he has a responsibility to protect the U.S. from an “invasion” and claims that Mayorkas violated the Secure Fence Act — a 2006 law that demands perfection at the border by declaring the border operationally secure only if no people or contraband improperly enter the country.
Greene called her legislation to the floor as a privileged resolution last week, forcing leadership to take action on the measure within two legislative days. The House could vote on the measure directly, or leadership can motion to refer the legislation to committee or motion to table it.
The chamber could vote as soon as Monday. Any of the three options would require a majority vote.
Greene said Sunday that leadership was “signaling that they will attempt to table or send it to committee (killing impeachment),” calling that “unacceptable” in a post on X.
“Grow some cajones and IMPEACH,” she wrote.
Greene’s effort received a significant endorsement Sunday, when House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) wrote on X: “A vote to impeach Mayorkas is a vote to get our border under control. I’ll be voting to impeach.”
The push, however, is dividing the GOP conference. On Thursday, Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.), who represents a district President Biden won in 2020, told reporters last week: “We’ll vote against it and move on.”
House braces for next step in Santos Ethics investigation
The House this week is bracing for a highly anticipated update from the Ethics Committee on its investigation into Santos, which some lawmakers believe will be damning for the New York Republican.
The Ethics panel late last month said it would “announce its next course of action” in its probe on or before Nov. 17, which is Friday.
The update comes amid heightened legal and political pressure on Santos. The congressman is facing a total of 23 criminal charges on allegations that he misled donors, fraudulently received unemployment benefits, lied on House financial disclosures and charged donors’ credit cards without authorization.
But Santos, nonetheless, has already survived two attempts to expel him from Congress. Most recently, 179 lawmakers — hailing from both parties — voted to oust him from office, which is well short of the two-thirds needed to drive him out. Some members who voted against expulsion voiced concerns about setting a dangerous new precedent, and others pointed to the upcoming Ethics announcement.
One fellow New York Republican is vowing to bring another expulsion resolution to the floor after the Ethics Committee releases its final report. When asked if the effort will garner more support once the report is out, Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) responded: “Heck yeah.”
Santos, for his part, said that even if the House votes to expel him, he will still run for his seat in 2024.
The committee noted that it has contacted approximately 40 witnesses, reviewed more than 170,000 pages of documents and authorized 37 subpoenas throughout its probe.