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Schumer Stirs Turbulence with Johnson: Government Shutdown Ahead?

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has wasted no time in initiating a battle over government funding. He has filed cloture on H.R. 815, a House-passed bill that will set the stage for a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded beyond November 17. While the details of the CR have not been revealed, it is expected to be a “clean” bill that funds the government until early December.

Now, here’s the thing – Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has a different plan in mind. He wants to avoid the intense pressure of a December funding deadline as lawmakers prepare to head home for the holiday recess. Johnson is pushing for an extension into January, which would give both chambers more time to work through their remaining appropriations bills. Seems like a reasonable approach, right?

But Schumer and Johnson aren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye on this. Johnson is considering a “laddered” CR, which would fund some agencies into January and others into February. However, Senate appropriators are scoffing at this idea, calling it unnecessarily complicated. And if Johnson decides to attach provisions like aid for Israel, which Schumer wants included in a larger Ukraine supplemental, the bill could face even more resistance.

Johnson plans to unveil his stopgap measure by Saturday, with a floor vote possible as early as Tuesday. Schumer, on the other hand, is playing it safe and not drawing any red lines in this fight. He has refrained from commenting on how he would handle a House CR that includes spending cuts or even how long he believes a CR should last. But he did throw a warning at Johnson, indicating that passing a bill with only Republican support would not be an effective way to move things forward. Well, thanks for the advice, Schumer.

Meanwhile, Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has made it clear that a clean bill is the only way to go. The “ladder” approach, as he calls it, is a total nonstarter for him. And this leaves Johnson in a precarious position. If he follows in his predecessor’s footsteps and passes a clean stopgap that can win Democratic votes – well, that didn’t end well for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), did it? Hard-liners swiftly replaced him as Speaker of the House.

So, here we are, with both sides digging in their heels and a government shutdown looming large on the horizon. Schumer faces the challenge of navigating the Senate, where any one member can slow down consideration of the CR. Past shutdown fights have seen conservatives intentionally delaying the process. But ultimately, they can’t prevent the bill from passing, and it’s unlikely that institutionalist Republicans will risk a shutdown. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) summed it up well when he said, “People didn’t send me to Washington to shut the government down.” Looks like just nine Republicans need to side with the Democrats to advance Schumer’s stopgap bill. Let the games begin!

Written by Staff Reports

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