With just six days until a government shutdown, newly-elected House Speaker Mike Johnson is pitching Republicans Saturday on his plan to avert a shutdown.
Johnson told the Republican lawmakers on a conference call that he is moving forward with a two-step government funding plan in what Johnson described as a “laddered CR” or continuing resolution, multiple sources tell ABC News. Notably, funding for Israel, Ukraine or border security are not attached to the must-pass legislation.
“This two-step continuing resolution is a necessary bill to place House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories. The bill will stop the absurd holiday-season omnibus tradition of massive, loaded up spending bills introduced right before the Christmas recess. Separating out the CR from the supplemental funding debates places our conference in the best position to fight for fiscal responsibility, oversight over Ukraine aid, and meaningful policy changes at our Southern border,” Johnson said in a statement.
How the bill would work, however, is a bit complicated.
Congress often passes a short-term funding bill or stopgap measure, known as a CR, to keep the government open at current spending levels. This is the option that Congress used just a few weeks ago to avoid a shutdown.
But Johnson says that’s not on the table.
Instead, he’s pushing a plan that would set two different deadlines to keep different parts of the government functioning, sources on the call told ABC News. The legislative text obtained by ABC News confirms two separate extensions for different chunks of the federal government just two weeks apart — Jan. 19 and Feb. 2.
When pitching this plan, Johnson mentioned he has only been on the job for a few weeks, adding he wasn’t the “architect of the mess we’re in,” sources familiar with the appeal said.
There are already a handful of Republicans who are skeptical of Johnson’s proposal to keep the government funded.
At least two say they will vote against it. Reps. Chip Roy and Marjorie Taylor Greene said they’re a no.
But would Democrats support it?
“It’s a good thing the Speaker didn’t include unnecessary cuts and kept defense funding with the second group of programs,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide told ABC News.
A Democratic leadership source told ABC News that Johnson knew he needed Democratic votes, so he moved in their direction by not including cuts and not placing defense funding in the first deadline. Even with that, it’s unclear if Democrats in the House and Senate will back this plan. Just last week, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries threw cold water on the idea of laddered CR.
Johnson is in the same boat that sunk former Speaker Kevin McCarthy — with a narrow majority that tests his leadership at every corridor of the Capitol. Absent a far-right revolt, a vote in the House could occur as soon as Tuesday, maximizing pressure on the Senate to act ahead of the Nov. 17 deadline.
Democratic leaders like Jeffries have insisted that Republicans move forward with a so-called “clean CR,” funding government at fiscal year 2022 spending levels set before Democrats lost control of the House.
This measure does not challenge that spending level, which has already upset Republicans like Roy who signaled his opposition on X.
“My opposition to the clean CR just announced by the Speaker to the CR cannot be overstated,” Roy posted. “Funding Pelosi level spending & policies for 75 days – for future ‘promises.'”
The package also includes a one-year extension of the Farm Bill.
Johnson signaled Saturday that he is content moving other policies forward with standalone votes. House Republicans passed a $14.3 billion package to aide Israel earlier this month, but President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats have scoffed at the lower chamber’s proposed cuts to the IRS.
The current deadline to pass a plan is the end of the day next Friday, Nov. 17. The House left for the week on Thursday — leaving just a few days for deals to be made when House lawmakers return on Monday.
The House Rules Committee will meet at 4 p.m. to set up a floor debate and a potential vote as soon as Tuesday.