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Schumer moving forward with temporary funding bill to avoid shutdown as spending talks continue

Why Congress must approve spending deal soon
Why Congress must approve spending deal soon 02:56

Washington — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Thursday he plans to move forward with a short-term measure to keep the government funded as lawmakers work to pass full-year spending bills ahead of a deadline to avert a government shutdown

"A shutdown is looming over us, starting on Jan. 19, about a week away," Schumer said on the Senate floor, referring to the first of two deadlines to extend government funding. "Unfortunately, it has become crystal clear that it will take more than a week to finish the appropriations process."

The New York Democrat acknowledged that both parties generally want to work together to pass appropriations bills based on top-line funding levels outlined in an agreement reached by congressional leaders over the weekend. However, growing conservative opposition to the agreement threatened its chances in the House, where several lawmakers said Thursday that House Speaker Mike Johnson should back out of the deal and push for spending cuts.

With deadlines fast approaching, Schumer announced that he is taking the first procedural step to tee up a temporary funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, to avert a shutdown at the end of next week. Some federal departments are funded through Jan. 19, while funding for others will expire on Feb. 2.

Schumer said members should be prepared to take the first procedural vote on the short-term measure on Tuesday. The timeline aims to give the chamber enough time to work with the House to avoid a lapse in government funding.

"The vast majority of us are all on the same page that a government shutdown would be a recipe for chaos," Schumer said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference following the Senate Democrats weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 9, 2024.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference following the Senate Democrats weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 9, 2024. Samuel Corum / Getty Images

But pointing to the House GOP's most conservative members, Schumer warned that some lawmakers "actually say a shutdown would be a good thing." He said they're trying to "bully the rest of Congress and the country to bend to their extremist views."

"Here is the incontrovertible truth: The White House is controlled by a Democrat, the Senate has a Democratic majority, and the Republican majority in the House is about as narrow as it can get," Schumer said. "So it takes compromise to get anything done in these conditions of divided government."

Whether the House follows suit on the stopgap measure remains to be seen. Though Johnson had previously pledged that he would not back any additional short-term funding measures after another shutdown threat late last year, he left the door open for a continuing resolution this week.

"I'm not ruling out anything, committing to anything, other than getting these appropriations done," Johnson said at a news conference on Wednesday. "And I think we can."

The decision threatens to be a politically perilous one for Johnson, who came into the role after the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. For McCarthy, his decision to work across the aisle to approve a stopgap measure amid a revolt from the right angered a group of conservatives — and ultimately led to his removal. 

Conservative opposition threatens spending agreement

Frustration with the deal between Johnson and Schumer quickly mounted among House conservatives, who were hoping for deep spending cuts. They took their opposition to the House floor on Wednesday, blocking a procedural vote to protest the agreement in a move that was relatively rare before conservatives began wielding it against McCarthy earlier this year.

Then on Thursday, several House conservatives exiting Johnson's office told reporters that there were discussions about revising the topline spending agreement reached days earlier and effectively reneging on Johnson's agreement with Schumer.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson departs his office at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 11, 2024.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson departs his office at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 11, 2024. Kent Nishimura / Getty Images

"We will have a good deal," Rep. Ralph Norman, South Carolina Republican, told reporters, saying that he also expects the House to adopt a continuing resolution.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, told reporters that "there's going to be a new deal drawn up."

"He doesn't have the support of the conference," Greene said of Johnson. "Unless he wants to work with Democrats and pass Democrat bills, then he needs to change."

Johnson told reporters that the discussions were still fluid and that he had not committed to revisiting talks with Schumer. 

"We had a cross section of members in today, we'll continue having cross sections of members in and while those conversations are going on, I've made no commitments. So if you hear otherwise it's just simply not true," Johnson said. "We're looking forward to those conversations."

Ellis Kim and Jaala Brown contributed reporting.

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