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House punts government shutdown deadline to next week after Johnson forced to seek Dem support again

Speaker Mike Johnson bucked the House GOP’s right flank to pass a short-term federal funding bill on Thursday, setting up Congress to avoid a partial government shutdown.

The bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), extends fiscal year 2023’s government funding levels to two deadlines – March 8 and March 22. It passed the House 320-99.

Congress is currently operating under a CR passed in January that extended funding for some of their 12 appropriations bills to March 1 and others to March 8.

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House GOP leaders were forced to seek Democratic votes, which were likely anyway, to pass the bill. They fast-tracked it under suspension of the rules, meaning it forgoes the normal process of going through the House Rules Committee and a House-wide procedural vote in exchange for raising the threshold for passage to two-thirds, instead of a simple majority.

It comes after GOP rebels weaponized procedural House votes several times to deliberately sink their own party’s legislation as a protest against leadership.

Many of those same rebels have pushed Johnson to allow for the government to shut down instead of extending the previous Democrat-controlled Congress’ funding levels. They argued a shutdown, even a partial one, would give House Republicans leverage to push for conservative policies. 

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With expected furloughs of federal employees and suspension of government programs, however, a government shutdown is a political perilous outcome for both Republicans and Democrats.

This is the fourth CR the House has passed since fiscal year 2023 ended on Sept. 30.

“We have to be willing to do what’s difficult to save America. I’m not scared of a government shutdown if it’s the price we need to pay to secure our border, get our debt under control, and stop the government from going after my fellow Americans,” Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, said.

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But Johnson said during his weekly press conference that it would buy negotiators just enough time to release legislative text for their first six spending bills over the weekend while avoiding the negative effects of a partial shutdown.

Chuck Schumer

“All of our members will have 72 hours to review it. That’s our commitment. That’s our rule. We’re respecting it. And that’s the only reason we need the process CR, to allow us time to do that,” Johnson said.

“If I did it the way, I don’t know, Speaker Pelosi did, we just drop that bill and vote on it within hours – we’re not going to do that.”

The CR must now pass the Senate and be signed by President Biden to avoid a partial shutdown at midnight on Friday.

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