Government Shutdown Averted After House Bill Passes

The House of Representatives approved a package to prevent a pre-holiday season government shutdown along bipartisan lines on Tuesday night.

The vote count was 336 to 95, significantly above the required two-thirds majority. Only two Democrats and ninety-three Republicans opposed the measure.

It will now be considered by the Senate’s Democratic majority, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has promised to prioritize it.

To allow Congress additional time to adopt 12 distinct appropriations bills outlining the following year’s spending priorities, funding for fiscal year 2023 was extended until November 17. With yet another deadline rapidly approaching, House and Senate leaders reached a consensus on the necessity for yet another continuing resolution (CR).

The bill passed Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.’s first major legislative test since taking over for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., less than a month ago. Johnson scored a victory by persuading most of his GOP Conference to back the CR, even though more Democrats voted for it than Republicans.

Johnson’s plan, unveiled on Saturday, establishes two distinct dates for financing various government agencies to develop clearer objectives.

It would also theoretically stop Congress from passing a big “omnibus” package containing all 12 spending measures at once like the one enacted by House and Senate Democrats last year but rejected by the GOP.

It mandates that by January 19th, lawmakers address some of the less contentious appropriations measures, such as those for military construction and Veterans Affairs, agriculture, energy and water, transportation, and housing and urban development. By February 2nd, a compromise must be reached on the remaining eight appropriations measures.

Members of Johnson’s Republican conference on the right, however, objected to the legislation due to a lack of expenditure reductions and conservative policy riders.

However, Senate leaders have given it their implicit approval, so Johnson’s first big move as speaker would likely prevent a shutdown if President Biden backs it.

Despite initial concerns over Johnson’s proposal to divide funding deadlines, it appeared that most Democrats were happy to avoid having to vote for a CR that would have capped out at levels below those of fiscal 2023.