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Nearly 100 Republicans Vote Against Bill to Narrowly Avert Government Shutdown

The bill is structured as a compromise to the furthest right wing members of Congress — who voted “no” anyway.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson departs from a news conference after a weekly Republican conference meeting in the U.S. Capitol Building on November 14, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

The House passed a bill on Tuesday that would fund the government through the end of the year in order to avert a government shutdown that is slated to happen this week.

The continuing resolution, one of the first major pieces of legislation to pass under new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana), was approved 336 to 95. Democratic support was key to its passage, with 209 Democrats and 127 Republicans voting “yes.” On the other hand, only two Democrats voted against the legislation while 93 Republicans broke with party leadership to vote “no.”

The resolution now goes to the Senate, where it will need to pass in order to avoid a shutdown on Friday, November 17, at 11:59 pm.

The bill funds some parts of the government, such as, the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Housing, Veterans Affairs and the Food and Drug Administration, until January 19 of next year, and the remaining programs, like the Defense Department, until February 2. In recent weeks, some of the furthest right Republicans have wanted leaders to propose budget cuts for the funding bill, which would likely have led to a shutdown with Democrats in the House and the Senate opposed.

The two-tier bill, which Republicans have dubbed as a “laddered” resolution, is a seeming compromise with the more extremist members — and even so, some members of the caucus were still in opposition. Those who voted “no” included some of the caucus’s most prominently far right Republicans, including people like Representatives Andy Biggs (Arizona), Matt Gaetz (Florida) and Jim Jordan (Ohio).

Democrats had initially been staunchly opposed to the two-tiered plan when it was unveiled last week, but softened their position in recent days, seemingly just to avoid a shutdown. Democratic leaders have still vowed to fight against Republicans in coming months as Johnson has vowed to insert countless “poison pills” and budget cuts into the funding bill, likely looking to erode abortion rights, crucial welfare programs like Social Security, and more.

“From the very beginning of this Congress, Democrats have maintained that we are ready, willing and able to find bipartisan common ground on any issue for the good of the American people and we’ve repeatedly done just that. We’ve done it in the context of now avoiding two government shutdowns,” said House Democratic caucus leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) in an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday. “We were able to come together and reach this continuing resolution that did three important things: no spending cuts, no hard right conservative policy changes, no government shutdown.”

Progressive lawmakers had objections to the legislation, saying that it puts crucial government programs at risk. “Yet again, the GOP’s selfishness is barreling us toward a potential government shutdown. They’re risking vital health, education and housing programs to advance their extreme MAGA agenda,” wrote Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri). “St. Louis deserves better than their dysfunction and callous extremism.”

But, ultimately, the progressive caucus came together in support of the bill to avoid cessation of the programs in the event of a government shutdown.

On Tuesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus touted the passage of the resolution, saying that it was only thanks to Democrats that the government will stay open through the end of the year.

“Republicans were forced again to retreat from their relentless attacks on public education, abortion, the LGBTQ community, climate and more and withdraw their wish list of extreme policies and cuts to vital programs,” progressive caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) said in a statement.

“Instead of learning from their past failures, House Republicans are still trying to pass legislation — which has no chance of becoming law — that would take teachers out of classrooms, kick poor families off rental assistance, and cut vital investments in low-income communities all so they can criminalize abortion and make it easier for the wealthy to cheat on their taxes,” Jayapal continued.

Using government funding bills to insert political priorities, as Republicans are planning to do, is extremely unpopular among the public. According to a Marist poll published Wednesday, 75 percent of respondents said that it is unacceptable for members of Congress to threaten to shut down the government to achieve their priorities.

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