WASHINGTON ― Far-right Republicans were incensed at House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) successful bid to fund the government with support from Democrats.
The House on Tuesday passed Johnson’s so-called two-step stopgap bill that would fund certain parts of the government into mid-January and others into early February, setting up potential partial government shutdowns unless spending agreements are reached.
But it was Johnson’s method to get the bill through the House, as well as the fact it contained no spending cuts, that angered some House Republicans. Johnson relied overwhelmingly on Democratic votes instead of those from his own party.
The House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of several dozen lawmakers, formally opposed the measure, though it did not say it would retaliate against Johnson. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) suggested, however, that there could be consequences.
“We’ll see,” Roy told reporters. “I tend to try to give people grace. I gave Kevin grace, I give Mike grace. Tough job. But I strongly disagree with this play call.”
Johnson used a special procedure to circumvent the House rules committee, where Roy and other conservatives had threatened to block a floor vote. The procedure, known as suspending the rules, is usually reserved for non-controversial bills with broad bipartisan support. It requires a two-thirds supermajority for approval, meaning lots of Democrats will have to back the resolution for it to be adopted.
House Democrats provided the bulk of the support in a 336 to 95 vote Tuesday. If approved by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden, the bill would fund smaller federal agencies like the departments of Transportation, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, and several others through Jan. 19. Other agencies, including the two biggest in the Defense and Heath and Human Services Departments, would be funded through Feb. 2.
Without an extension, the government faces a midnight deadline Friday night for shutting down.
Roy said it was “asinine” to use suspension, and suggested that he might withhold support from future Johnson priorities. “It’s hard to fundraise and vote for certain things when you’re getting rolled on other things,” he said.
Johnson defended his choice and touted what he said was a new spin on the usual stopgap bill formula.
“We’re not surrendering, we’re fighting. But you have to be wise about choosing the fights,” Johnson said at a press conference. He added that the idea of setting different dates for different portions of the government to shut down if no agreement is reached is “an important innovation” that changes the dynamics of the debate.
McCarthy was ousted in part because the stopgap funding bill he passed using Democratic votes also had no spending cuts, like Johnson’s measure. But Johnson said he’s not worried he will face the same fate as McCarthy.
“I’m not concerned about it at all,” Johnson said. “Kevin should take no blame for that. Kevin was in a very difficult situation when that happened. This is a different situation.”
McCarthy, in a recent interview with CNN’s Manu Raju, also said Johnson’s job is safe, with House Republicans wary of trying to oust another speaker soon after the three-week House shutdown that happened as they struggled to replace McCarthy with Johnson.
“Who are they going to replace him with?” McCarthy asked.
Several conservatives who oppose Johnson’s continuing resolution said they don’t think the speaker will face any serious retaliation, since he’s only been in the job for a few weeks.
“The team’s down 30 to nothing in the fourth quarter, you put in the backup quarterback, and you want to hold him accountable for the three quarters of failure that got you behind?” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) said, explaining why the team shouldn’t bench Johnson.
Still, Good likened the vote to both a fumble and an interception. “But I’m not cutting the guy,” he said.