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House passes Speaker Johnson's bill to avert government shutdown: Recap

The new speaker's plan has the support of Democratic leadership and many Republicans in both chambers, although House conservatives balked at its lack of spending cuts.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., at the Capitol.
Speaker Mike Johnson passed his first major legislation Tuesday.Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Here's what is happening ahead of the shutdown deadline:

  • The House passed its continuing resolution, or CR, sending it to the Senate to avoid a shutdown. The deadline to fund the government is 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
  • The plan devised by new Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., would extend funding for some government agencies through mid-January and others through early February.
  • The measure needed the support of two-thirds of the House to pass, which it exceeded. It is also expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
  • Democratic leadership in both chambers have embraced Johnson's bill because it would keep spending at current levels without the deep cuts that conservatives had pushed for.
  • The House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives opposed the bill because it lacks those spending cuts.

Johnson: 'We just had to get the job done'

Johnson said he was “pleased with the outcome” after his two-step continuing resolution passed the House.

“We just had to get the job done,” he said as he left the House chamber after the vote. “We’ll do it day by day.”

Asked about Republican defections on the bill, Johnson said: “We’ll get our team together and run the agenda. We’re ready to do that.”

More Republicans voted against today's CR than the last one

More Republicans — 93 — voted against this CR than opposed the last clean funding bill in September.

As with the last bill, more Democrats voted for the CR than did Republicans. Only two Democrats voted against the measure today: Reps. Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts and Mike Quigley of Illinois; Quigley was the lone Dem to vote against the September CR.

For context, the CR that the House approved Sept. 30 passed on a vote of 335-91.

The House has passed the CR, sending it to the Senate

House lawmakers on Tuesday passed Speaker Mike Johnson’s stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown, likely punting the GOP’s spending fight until after the holidays.

The bill now heads to the Senate, which is expected to send it to President Joe Biden’s desk by Friday night to avert a shutdown.

Why two-thirds of the House is needed to pass this CR

Typically, the House will vote on a "rule," a procedural vote that paves the way for bills to be passed with a simple majority. Rules are usually passed by the majority party, but Republican leaders are using a different tactic due to conservative opposition.

Instead, they are bringing the CR to the floor “under suspension of the rules.” This means it will need the support of two-thirds of the chamber to pass.

This change was made because it was clear that there would not be enough Republican votes to pass the rule, but Democrats seem willing to vote to pass the bill itself.

The House is now voting

The House is now voting on the CR. Two-thirds of the House will need to vote yea to pass it.

The CR vote will come in the next hour

The House was expected to vote on the CR between 4:30-5:30 p.m. ET, but they're handling a series of unrelated amendment votes that are taking a while. Each of these votes is supposed to be a "two-minute vote," but they often go over time.

The vote on the actual CR is the last in this vote series and should happen within the hour.

A bit of a mess on the Senate floor right now ...

Senate Republicans are trying to use the fact that there is no pending business before the Senate — because they’re waiting for the House to pass this CR so they can start considering it — to try to force consideration of the House-passed Israel aid bill.

Democrats support aid for Israel but oppose the House's bill because it cuts funding to ramp up IRS enforcement. As a result, it would add billions to the deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Vote will happen around 5:30 p.m. ET

The House will vote on Johnson’s two-step continuing resolution in the next vote series, scheduled to start around 4:30 p.m. It will be the 11th vote of the series, so it will likely come up closer to 5:30 p.m.

House Democratic leaders come out in support of CR

House Dem leadership endorsed Johnson's two-step CR in a statement before the vote, saying it’s “devoid of harmful cuts and free of extreme right-wing policy riders."

"We will support it," leadership said.

"Moving forward, it is important that Congress comes together to advance the supplemental national security and domestic policy funding requested by President Joe Biden," they continued.

What happens to Social Security payments and more in a shutdown

If the federal government shuts down Saturday, numerous publicly funded agencies will stop work and their employees won’t be paid, but Social Security checks will still go out.

Social Security is considered a mandatory program, and it isn’t funded by the shorter-term appropriations bills passed by Congress and signed by the president. That means its operations and funding don’t stop when the government shuts down.

That’s important for a large proportion of Americans, as about 67 million people receive monthly Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. Those benefits go primarily to retirees but also to people with disabilities, as well as dependents of deceased beneficiaries. 

Medicare and Veterans Affairs benefits also continue to be distributed during a shutdown.

Read the full story here.

How a government shutdown could upend holiday travel

Transportation Security Administration officers and air traffic controllers across the country could be working without pay during the Thanksgiving travel rush as the U.S. heads toward a government shutdown days before a record number of air passengers are expected at U.S. airports.

The federal government will shut down and be unable to continue paying its workers starting Saturday unless Congress passes a new funding bill. While airport security and air traffic controllers will still be required to show up for work without pay, past shutdowns have led to increases in absenteeism, which could be a recipe for flight delays and extreme security lines for holiday travelers. 

The air travel workforce is already stretched thin, with TSA officers and air traffic controllers working mandatory overtime amid staffing shortages and a record number of air travelers.

Read the full story here.

Meanwhile: McCarthy says he did not punch Rep. Burchett

The former speaker told reporters he did not punch Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., in the kidneys. McCarthy said that he just bumped into one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust him by accident.

“If I kidney punched him, he’d be on the ground," McCarthy said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has filed an ethics complaint against McCarthy over the incident. Gaetz was not there.

McConnell says Johnson's plan is 'a step in the right direction'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he supports Johnson's plan for a CR.

"I intend to support it. I understand it’s likely to clear the House on a bipartisan basis. It’s nice to see us working together to prevent a government shutdown," he said during a news conference. "And we’ll 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. So, I’m happy for him and look forward to seeing it pass on a bipartisan basis."

Things are getting feisty on Capitol Hill ...

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., accused former Speaker Kevin McCarthy of elbowing him in the kidneys this morning. McCarthy later denied this "cheap shot," Burchett said.

Then, Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., tried to start a physical fight with a committee witness, the president of the Teamsters union, Sean O’Brien. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had to break it up, yelling at both men and banging his gavel. “Stop it! No, no, sit down! You know, you’re a United States senator," he said to Mullin.

And Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., got into a testy exchange with Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., telling Moskowitz, who's dressed in a blue suit and tie today, "You look like a Smurf," referring to the popular and very blue cartoon characters.

The tensions on Capitol Hill are hitting their peak after a long period in session. The House has been working for 10 weeks straight, an unusually long time without a break, and several of them were spent on an ugly fight over the speaker's gavel. The Senate has been working about half as long.

As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's press secretary put it on X: "Today is another example of why Congress shouldn’t be in session for 5 weeks straight. Weird things happen. weird things = physical altercations."

Luckily, if this CR passes and the Senate is able to take it up quickly, they could start a Thanksgiving break as soon as tomorrow.

'When did bipartisanship become bad?' one Republican asks

Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., said he'll support the CR today and wondered aloud about criticism of the bill focused on the fact that Democrats plan to support it.

"When did bipartisanship become bad?" he said.

When a reporter responded that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted because he worked with Democrats on the last funding bill, Van Orden cut in.

"Speaker McCarthy was ousted because there’s an immature man child that happened to be elected to Congress from Florida. That’s why he was ousted. Let’s just be frank," he said.

Conservatives don't like the CR, but most like Johnson

Several conservative House Republicans who oppose the CR criticized the bill for not having any spending cuts, but most of them avoided putting the blame on Johnson himself. 

"Here’s what I’ve said about Speaker Johnson. He did not set the table. He did not cause the situation that has come to pass," Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., said. "We’re going to have to get through it. But we need something better than this."

"I don’t support the clean CR for the same reasons that I didn’t support the last clean CR," Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., said. "And so I don’t like the bill. I like Speaker Johnson."

"Speaker Johnson has been on the job for what, two or three weeks now?" Good continued. "It’s like throwing in a quarterback in the fourth quarter and expecting to make up for three quarters of failure and you’re behind 35, nothing. ... The reason why Speaker Johnson finds himself in the position he is in is because of nine months of failure under Speaker McCarthy."

Schumer praises the House CR

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke on the Senate floor this morning, reiterating that he is pleased that the House stopgap government funding bill does not include poison pill cuts.

“The proposal before the House does two things Democrats have pushed for: It will avert a shutdown and it will do so without making any terrible hard right cuts that the MAGA right-wing demand,” Schumer said.

"I hope the speaker does not yield to the demands of the hard right as we try to keep the government open," Schumer continued. "Instead, I hope the speaker continues to recognize he will need Democratic votes in order to avoid a shutdown."

A tense moment between McCarthy and Rep. Burchett

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., who voted to oust Kevin McCarthy, had an odd run-in with the former speaker in the halls this morning.

Burchett had stopped to answer a question from reporters when McCarthy walked by with his detail and appeared to bump into Burchett’s back. At first, Burchett apologized, thinking he had been in someone’s way. When he realized it was McCarthy he started yelling “Kevin! Hey Kevin!” and asked why McCarthy elbowed him.

McCarthy just kept walking and never turned around, though Burchett was very loudly calling his name. Burchett then turned to reporters and called McCarthy a “jerk.”

Asked later what happened, Burchett said that McCarthy had "elbowed me in the kidneys," saying he believed it was done "100% on purpose." Burchett said he confronted McCarthy, who denied what Burchett called a "cheap shot."

"He’s just a bully with $17 million and a security detail," Burchett said.

"In Tennessee, we handle it face to face, not somebody that comes and hits you in the back," Burchett said. "I don’t know what they teach them in Southern California."

"It shocked me more than anything else. It really did. It was the last thing I expected," he added.

There’s no love lost between McCarthy and the eight Republicans who voted to oust him. Particularly on a day when they’re expected to allow the new speaker to pass his own clean CR without similar repercussions for his job.

Johnson: 'We are not surrendering. We are fighting.'

Responding to conservative criticism of his two-step CR, Johnson called himself "one of the arch-conservatives.”

“We are not surrendering. We are fighting," he told reporters.

“Look, it took decades to get into this mess. I’ve been at the job less than three weeks, right? I can’t change— I can’t turn an aircraft carrier overnight," Johnson continued. "But this was a very important first step to get us to the next stage so that we can change how Washington works.”

He also said he’s “not concerned” that passing this CR could weaken his speakership.

Johnson ignored a question as he was walking out about whether he was committed to passing a supplemental aid bill for Israel and Ukraine before the next CR passes in early 2024.

The House Freedom Caucus is officially a no

The conservative House Freedom Caucus officially announced its opposition to Johnson's CR plan this morning.

The Freedom Caucus had initially pushed for the two-tiered “laddered CR” approach but opposes Johnson’s bill because it lacks spending cuts and conservative policy riders.

“The House Freedom Caucus opposes the proposed ‘clean’ Continuing Resolution as it contains no spending reductions, no border security, and not a single meaningful win for the American People," the group wrote in a press release.

Democrats signal support for Speaker Johnson’s plan to avert a government shutdown

After trashing the idea of a two-step strategy to fund the government, House Democrats signaled Monday that they are open to backing Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan, significantly lowering the threat of a painful shutdown at the end of the week.

With a handful of conservatives rebelling against the stopgap funding bill, it means Johnson, R-La., must receive help from Democrats to get it through the chamber.

On Monday afternoon, House Democratic leaders said they are considering supporting the Johnson strategy. And across the Capitol, Johnson’s plan got a bipartisan boost from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggesting the continuing resolution, or CR, is likely to cruise through the Senate if it can first pass out of the House. The House plans to take up the bill Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

Speaker Johnson will need Democratic support for two-step funding bill

The House will vote on the CR around 4:30 today

The House will vote on Speaker Mike Johnson’s two-step continuing resolution this afternoon around 4:30 p.m.

Many Democrats are expected to support the bill since the CR does not cut spending or attach other conservative policy riders, but they will formalize their position in a caucus meeting that's happening this morning.

This plan funds the government at existing levels in order to avoid a shutdown that would begin at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.

The CR extends funding until Jan. 19 for the agencies dealing with Agriculture, Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

The remaining agency appropriations — for the Departments of Commerce, Justice and Science; Defense; Financial Services; Homeland Security; Interior and Environment; Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; Legislative Branch; State and foreign operations — will be extended to Feb. 2.