(WASHINGTON) — The House is set to vote Tuesday afternoon on Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan to avert a government shutdown just days ahead of a Friday deadline.
But because of opposition from hard-line Republicans, he will have to rely on dozens of Democratic votes to pass his unconventional idea with the needed two-thirds majority.
Johnson huddled with Republicans behind closed doors Tuesday morning, giving one final pitch for his two-step proposal before he puts it on the floor for a vote later in the day.
But several left the meeting unmoved. Rep. Andy Ogles of Tennessee called Johnson’s plan a “surrender.” Texas Rep. Chip Roy called it a “mistake.”
At a later news conference, ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott asked Johnson about those Republicans outraged about his going forward.
“We’re not surrendering, we’re fighting but you have to be wise about choosing the fights. …You got to fight fights that you can win, and we’re going to and you’re going to see this House majority stand together on our principle,” he said.
“Look, it took decades to get into this mess, right, I’ve been at the job less than three weeks, right? …I can’t turn an aircraft carrier overnight. But this was a very important first step to get us to the next stage so that we can change how Washington works,” he added.
Meanwhile, some Democrats are calling this a victory.
After their meeting Tuesday morning, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and other Democrats were still evaluating Johnson’s continuing resolution.
“We have not taken a family position on the bill,” Aguilar said.
“And I think the concern is Speaker Johnson — this is very similar to the position we had been before. He is bleeding votes within his conference,” he said. “There is no prospect of him delivering the votes to achieve this success to achieve the continuing resolution.”
“Our caucus still has questions about what that path ahead is,” he said.
The irony is that Johnson is pushing forward with the same type of stopgap plan that led to Kevin McCarthy being ousted as speaker.
Still, some Republicans are signaling they’re willing to give Johnson a break.
“Speaker Johnson came in kind of like the backup quarterback, you can’t blame him for the score of the game when he enters the game,” Rep. Dan Meuser or Pennsylvania said.
Other Republicans acknowledge the realities of a divided government and a deeply divided party.
“In the Republican conference, you couldn’t get 217 of us to agree that today’s Tuesday,” Rep. Troy Nehls said.
“Mike is having to reach out to the Democrats, because you can’t get the Republicans to agree on anything,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday morning he was “very heartened” by Johnson’s government funding proposal, and said that he and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would work to move the stopgap bill to the floor expeditiously if the House passes it Tuesday.
“We’ll see over the course of how the House moves today whether it comes forward, when it comes here, if the House should pass it and I hope they do,” Schumer said. “Leader McConnell and I will figure out the best way to get this done quickly. Neither McConnell nor I want a shut down.”
Schumer has embraced the House proposal because it does not include any spending cuts.
“The proposal before the House does two things Democrats pushed for,” Schumer said. “One: not making the hard-right cuts that the MAGA wing demands and second, making sure that if they are going to do this sort of goofy ladder that defense is in the second part of the ladder — not the first.”
Schumer was asked about his break from the White House, which originally dismissed the GOP proposal as “unserious.”
“I think that we all want to avoid a shutdown, I’ve talked to the White House and both of us agree, the White House and myself, that if this can avoid a shutdown, it would be a good thing.”
McConnell gave a ringing endorsement of the House stopgap funding proposal Tuesday, and said he looks forward to passing the bill into law if it clears the House. He said he was “happy for” Johnson and that he “looks forward to passing the short term bill on a bipartisan basis.”
“It’s nice to see us working together to prevent a government shutdown and to deal with all of the other big issues that we have ahead of us during this period between now and the time the CR expires,” McConnell said.
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