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Congress Struggles to Pass Speaker Johnson’s ‘Laddered’ Stopgap Spending Bill as Shutdown Looms

Leaders in Washington have just five days to pass a government funding bill if they hope to avoid a shutdown.

But Congress isn’t on the same page, with the House and Senate on pace to approve their own versions of stopgap spending measures as lawmakers continue work on the annual budget, which is more than a month past its original Oct. 1 due date. 

Hurdles emerged over the weekend in response to House Speaker Mike Johnson‘s two-step “laddered” approach that sets the chamber on a collision course with Senate Democrats. The measure would fund different portions of the government until Jan. 19 and Feb. 2.

But several House Republicans say they won’t greenlight more spending without drastic cuts, Senate Republicans have suggested the staggered due dates are overly complicated, and Democrats in both chambers have decried the proposal. 

“We have no choice here,” Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, said on the CBS Sunday talk show “Face the Nation.” He stressed the importance of keeping the government open to pass foreign aid for Israel and Ukraine.

“Our aid to Israel is urgent, and time is of the essence. We have to deliver this package,” Mr. McCaul said. “I know that we have offsets. And that’s fair. But I don’t think we can play political games with this, to support our ally.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Mr. Johnson‘s proposal “looks gimmicky” but added that he’s “open to what the House is talking about.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is expected to unveil his own short-term funding measure this week. 

There are at least a handful of Republican opponents in the House to Mr. Johnson‘s plan, meaning he’ll likely need to win over some Democrats to get his version passed. 

Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Chip Roy of Texas and Warren Davidson of Ohio have publicly stated their opposition to the so-called continuing resolution, or CR, because it would keep spending at its current levels. 

“I voted NO to both CRs before and I’m voting NO to this clean CR. We need to finish approps and the Senate needs to do their job,” Ms. Greene posted on social media. 

“No money to Ukraine! Close the border! Stop the weaponized government! Impeach Biden, Mayorkas, Wray, Garland, and Graves!” she added in screaming all-capital letters.

A handful of other Republicans have previously stated they would not support future stopgap spending measures. 

Mr. Johnson, Louisiana Republican, sought to convince skeptics over the weekend that his proposal is the best path forward. 

The House could vote as early as Tuesday. 

“Washington’s spending addiction cannot be broken overnight. But I will not allow end of year megabus spending packages to continue under my leadership,” he posted Sunday on X. 

“This CR delivers for the country and ensures [House Republicans are] in the best possible position to fight for fiscal responsibility, oversight, and meaningful policy changes,” he wrote.

Passing a similar measure was the kiss of death for Mr. Johnson‘s predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

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