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Democrats Show Support for Speaker Mike Johnson’s Stopgap Bill, Easing Fears of Government Shutdown

A proposal from House Republicans to fund the government faced nominal resistance Monday from both sides of the aisle, raising hopes that Congress will beat the Friday midnight deadline to avert a shutdown.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has set a Tuesday vote on the measure, which funds different portions of the government until either Jan. 19 or Feb. 2. But the Louisiana Republican will require the help of Democrats amid opposition from several conservative hardliners.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, New York Democrat, told colleagues that his side was “carefully evaluating” the GOP proposal. He did not rule it out, despite hand-wringing from Democrats about the two-step or “laddered” approach to funding the government. 

At least one Democrat was prepared to cross the aisle. Rep. Dean Phillips, a challenger to President Biden for the party’s presidential nomination, gave the Republican plan his seal of approval.

The bill’s lack of cuts to current spending levels attracted Democratic support but turned off some Republican hardliners.

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer signaled support for the unusual two-step spending measure, known in Congress jargon as a continuing resolution or CR. The New York Democrat scrapped his plan for a Monday evening procedural vote to launch the Senate’s version of a stopgap bill.

SEE ALSO: Rep. Dean Phillips says he’ll vote for Speaker Mike Johnson’s stopgap measure to avoid shutdown

Mr. Schumer said he wanted to allow the House to move first and that he was “heartened” by Mr. Johnson’s decision to omit “devastating cuts that are nonstarters for Democrats.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky endorsed Mr. Johnson’s plan as a “responsible measure that will keep the lights on [and] avoid a harmful lapse in federal spending.”

Mr. Biden was noncommittal about whether he would veto the legislation, suggesting to reporters that congressional leaders be given space to usher through a solution in such a short period.

“Let’s wait and see what they come up with,” Mr. Biden said.

It’s a déjà vu for Washington, which was in a nearly identical situation just six weeks ago. Congress avoided a shutdown that time with a stopgap bill that lasted through Friday, but its bipartisan nature cost Rep. Kevin McCarthy the speakership.

This time, conservatives are giving Mr. Johnson leeway because they trust he will be more successful in slashing spending in an annual budget that appropriators continue to craft.

Still, at least eight House Republicans opposed a stopgap unless steep cuts are added. Those against it included conservative hard-liners such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Chip Roy of Texas and Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

“Understand that every time there is a so-called ‘continuing resolution,’ it includes crap like extending policies that have been used to advance #COVIDTyranny,” Mr. Roy posted on X. “I can swallow temporary extension if we are getting actual ‘wins’ on … well … ANYTHING. But not just a punt.”

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