Government shutdown averted yet again as Trump Republicans blast spending bill

Texas Republican tells The Independent that the agreement should have been ‘extended it through the end of the year’ to reach ‘one per cent reduction’

Eric Garcia
Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
,Gustaf Kilander
Friday 01 March 2024 01:17 GMT
US lawmakers reach deal to avert government shutdown ahead of deadline

The House and Senate voted to pass a stopgap spending bill, averting a looming government shutdown once again – and prompting pro-Trump Republicans to level fury against House Speaker Mike Johnson.

The continuing resolution will keep the government open until 8 March. The bill came as part of a larger agreement from Mr Johnson, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, and House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries as well as the leadership on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to vote on six of the 12 spending bills by 8 March.

The bill passed in the House by 320 to 99 – Republicans being split on the matter and Democrats making up most of the support for the agreement. Only two House Democrats voted against the legislation. Similarly, the Senate voted 77 to 13 on the stopgap funding bill to head to President Joe Biden’s desk.

As has typically been the case, Mr Johnson and House Republican leadership had to rely on Democrats to pass the legislation while suspending the House rules, which requires a two-thirds majority and allowed the House to sidestep the House Rules Committee and a vote on a rule for debate on the House floor.

“I think having a bipartisan deal that you keep the government open on its face is not a problem,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told The Independent. “I think that's a political problem for him in his caucus.”

The bipartisan agreement includes bills to fund the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration; the Justice and Commerce Departments and science, energy and water development; the Department of Interior; the military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs; and the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Those bills will receive a vote on 8 March.

Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, a Republican, praised the agreement.

“We're gonna see what it is. I don't believe in government shutdowns,” he told The Independent. “I never support government shutdowns. They cost the government money.”

The six other spending bills – including the Pentagon; financial services and general government spending; the Department of Homeland Security; the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services; the legislative branch; and the State Department and foreign operations – will receive a vote on 22 March.

A large slice of Republicans voted against the spending bill, including members of the House Freedom Caucus.

“I'm not a fan, that's all I got to say,” Mr Donalds of Florida told The Independent on Wednesday evening after leadership announced the agreement. “We're spending way too much money. Way too much.”

On Thursday, Mr Donalds told The Independent he would not be voting for the continuing resolution.

Representative Troy Nehls of Texas also said ahead of the vote that he would not back the agreement, adding that Republicans “should have the agreement, extended it through the end of the year, got to one per cent reduction”.

But despite dissatisfaction among Republicans, Mr Johnson does not look in danger of losing the gavel. Asked if he thinks the speaker is in danger of losing his post, a sarcastic Mr Nehls said: “I don't know. What do we do? Let's just go down to Disney and see if Daffy Duck or maybe Goofy would want the job.”

Adopting a similar tone, Democratic representative Jared Moskowitz told The Independent: “It's great that we run the government week to week around here.”

Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee said it “wasn’t his agreement,” saying that he would vote no ahead of the ballot.

The chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, representative Bob Good of Virginia, told reporters that “I actually had a Democratic member telling me this morning: ‘We like it when you're in charge because nothing changes. But you guys get all the blame’.”

“There is hope for the future now that the Democrat minority leader has stepped down,” he added, in reference to the outgoing Republican Senate leader, Mr McConnell. “Speaker Johnson has been working against [President Joe] Biden, and [Vice President Kamala] Harris and Schumer and McConnell and Jeffires so now at least we're gonna get a Senate leader, I hope that it'll certainly be more conservative.”

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