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Democrats help Johnson pass GOP bill to avoid government shutdown

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(WASHINGTON) — In a bipartisan vote, the House has passed Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan to avert a government shutdown just days ahead of a Friday deadline.

The final vote was 336-95 with more Democrats voting for the bill than Republicans — 209 to 127, respectively. More than 90 Republicans voted against it. The bill received the two-thirds majority to pass.

The bill now goes on to the Senate for approval. Senate leaders have indicated they will support it.

In his first test as the newly-appointed speaker, Johnson pitched a two-step government plan that he described as a “laddered CR” or continuing resolution that would keep the government funded at 2023 levels. The bill extends government funding until Jan. 19 for veterans’ affairs, military construction, transportation, housing and urban development, and the Energy-Water Department. The rest of the government is funded until Feb. 2.

The bill does not include any supplemental aid for Israel or Ukraine.

Johnson argued that the plan would allow for the House to pass the rest of the individual spending bills and avoid a massive spending bill near Christmas.

Johnson said the passage of the bill “puts House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative policy victories.”

“We also are better positioned in the upcoming supplemental debate to demand Border Security, ensure oversight of Ukraine aid, and support our cherished ally, Israel,” Johnson said in a statement after the vote.

Johnson leaned heavily on his Democratic colleagues after dozens of Republicans opposed his plan. House Democratic leadership issued a statement shortly before the vote, indicating the conference would support Johnson’s plan — giving the speaker added confidence of its passage heading into the vote.

During debate on the House floor before the vote, Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, called the plan a “very practical plan while we work out our political differences.” Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., urged his colleagues to support the bill saying “a government shutdown just before the holidays does our nation no good.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., slammed the GOP plan, adding “it says something very poignant about the ability to govern and the willingness to govern.” Also, she mentioned that it doesn’t include funding for overseas allies such as Israel and Ukraine and “shortchanges” the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — commonly known as WIC.

Earlier Tuesday, Johnson met with his conference behind closed doors to sway holdouts — yet 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.

The irony is that Johnson is pushed forward with the same type of stopgap plan that led to Kevin McCarthy being ousted as speaker.

“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.

“Leader McConnell and I will figure out the best way to get this done quickly. Neither McConnell nor I want a shut down,” Schumer said.

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 funding proposal Tuesday. 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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