- Speaker Mike Johnson just passed a “clean” government funding bill with mostly Democratic votes.
- That’s essentially the same thing that triggered the effort to oust Kevin McCarthy in October.
- But no one’s eager to go through another speaker fight, and the hard right’s cutting him some slack.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives just passed a bill to temporarily fund the government, it got way more votes from Democrats than Republicans, and the hard right is pissed off about it.
Does that sound familiar?
If so, that’s because it’s essentially the same thing that triggered the end of Kevin McCarthy’s speakership in October.
Days before that, McCarthy narrowly averted a government shutdown by proposing a temporary government funding bill — known as a continuing resolution or “CR” — that didn’t include any conservative policy priorities or spending cuts.
That led Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida to trigger a vote to boot McCarthy from the speakership, which was supported by 7 other Republicans and all Democrats.
The bill that Johnson managed to pass by a 335-93 margin on Tuesday evening similarly does not include spending cuts or other conservative priorities. But in an attempt to appease the House Freedom Caucus, it establishes two separate deadlines for government funding — January 19 and February 2 — as part of a novel idea that Republicans have dubbed the “laddered CR.”
But that hasn’t been enough to mollify critics on the hard right, including one who described it as “[perpetuating] the very system my constituents sent me here to oppose.”
Ultimately, 92 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted against it.
But despite those lawmakers’ frustrations, Johnson’s job is safe — for now.
Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee, one of the 8 Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy, told Business Insider on Tuesday that despite his opposition to Johnson’s plan, he’s willing to cut him some slack.
And he took a shot at the former speaker, who apparently shoved him from behind following a closed-door meeting just moments earlier.
“I think we have a speaker that legitimately wants to pass a budget and not just take care of his lobbyist friends,” said Burchett. “So I think that’s going to be a difference.”
Republican Rep. Andy Ogles of Tennessee, another House Freedom Caucus member who’s also opposed to the bill, put an even finer point on it.
“You know, I was against removing McCarthy because we were in the middle of the appropriations process,” said Ogles. “As much of a disaster that was, it would be even worse now to try to remove the speaker.”
Since the beginning of the year, conservative lawmakers have pushed the House to move twelve individual government funding bills through “regular order,” rather than making them vote on the bills all at once as part of a giant spending package at the end of the year.
And hard right Republicans are at least somewhat optimistic that they can keep that process going, despite the passage of a temporary government funding bill that they philosophically disagree with.
“In terms of the aspiration, I think that’s good,” said Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin, another House Freedom Caucus member. “Practically, will it play out that way? I’m skeptical.”
And things may be different in January, when the bill is set to expire.
“January will be a different quarter, it’ll be a new set of circumstances, and I can’t speak for what other members might do,” said Ogles.
Democrats think that idea of a “laddered” CR is ill-conceived, and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Patty Murray has called it “the craziest, stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
Yet Democrats ultimately decided that despite those objections, they preferred to simply avoid a government shutdown right before Thanksgiving.
With the bill easily clearing the House, the bill is widely seen as likely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate sometime this week, thus averting a government shutdown.