March 2, 2024

Speaker Johnson Passes Another Short-Term Spending Bill

In a stark divide within the House Republican Conference, Speaker Mike Johnson is facing backlash for his strategy to prevent a government shutdown.

House Republican hardliners are expressing frustration with Speaker Mike Johnson for passing a "clean" short-term federal funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to avoid a partial government shutdown.

This move has sparked internal conflicts within the House Republican Conference, with some members advocating for using a shutdown as leverage to push for conservative policies, particularly on U.S. border issues, as Fox News reports.

The decision to pass a short-term continuing resolution without attaching conservative policy demands has ignited a political civil war among House Republicans, revealing deep fissures over strategy and priorities.

The discord centers around the passage of a "clean" short-term extension of fiscal 2023's government funding, which was approved on Thursday with bipartisan support. This marks the fourth extension since the fiscal year began on Sept. 30, indicating a reliance on temporary measures to keep the government operational. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas vocalized the dissatisfaction among the hardliners, lamenting the continued spending without significant bureaucratic change, suggesting that such actions undermine the pursuit of a stronger America.

Hardliners' Discontent with Fiscal Strategies

Rep. Roy's criticisms reflect a broader sentiment within the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus and their allies, who have been advocating for leveraging a government shutdown to extract conservative policy concessions from the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House. This group argues that the "clean" CRs merely perpetuate the priorities of the previous Democrat-controlled Congress, thus failing to enact the conservative agenda.

The passage of the continuing resolution saw more votes from Democrats than Republicans, highlighting the division within the GOP. Some GOP lawmakers argue that by not attaching conservative demands to the CR, the House misses an opportunity to shape fiscal policy in line with Republican values. This internal conflict has escalated to what some describe as a political civil war within the conference, challenging the unity and strategy of the Republican majority.

A Historical Context of Leadership and Policy Battles

This is not the first time Republican leaders have faced opposition from within their ranks over the strategy to fund the government. The ousting of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy by Republican hardliners late last year over a similar issue underscores the contentious nature of these debates. McCarthy's introduction of the first "clean" CR was met with significant pushback, leading to his removal from the leadership position.

The recent CR passed the House with a significant margin, 320-99, with 113 GOP lawmakers voting in favor and 97 against. This support from 207 Democrats, with only two opposed, further illustrates the bipartisan nature of the bill, but also the GOP's internal divide. Notably, this CR received more GOP votes than a previous extension put on the House floor in January, which garnered support from 107 Republicans.

Voices of Opposition and Concern

House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-VA) has been vocal about his opposition to Thursday’s measure, stating that it would lead to his group opposing fiscal 2024 spending bills. This stance signifies a continued strategy of resistance to spending measures that do not include conservative policy aims, particularly concerning border security and immigration policies.

An unnamed speaker, rumored to be Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the consequences of continued spending without addressing key policy issues. He highlighted the border situation as a critical concern, suggesting that the country's security is compromised by the current fiscal strategy. This perspective underscores the hardliners' view that the budgetary process is a tool for policy change that is currently underutilized.

Exploring the Implications of Fiscal Decisions

The debate within the House Republican Conference over the use of continuing resolutions without conservative policy attachments raises important questions about the balance between fiscal responsibility and policy objectives. The strategy to avoid a government shutdown through "clean" CRs is seen by some as a missed opportunity to assert conservative priorities, particularly in areas like border security and immigration reform.

The internal conflict reflects a broader ideological battle within the Republican Party, between those who seek to use every legislative tool available to advance conservative policies and those who prioritize governance stability through bipartisan cooperation. This division could have significant implications for the party's ability to enact its agenda and navigate the challenges of a divided government.

Looking Ahead: The Path Forward for House Republicans

The resolution of this internal conflict and the strategic choices made by House Republicans in the coming months will be crucial in determining the party's legislative success and its ability to unify around a common agenda. As fiscal deadlines approach, the GOP will need to reconcile these internal divisions to present a coherent strategy to the American people.

In conclusion, the recent passage of a "clean" continuing resolution has laid bare the deep divisions within the House Republican Conference over fiscal strategy and policy priorities. Hardliners' frustration with Speaker Mike Johnson's approach underscores a broader debate about the use of legislative power to advance conservative policies, particularly concerning border security. With the GOP facing internal challenges and a divided government, the path forward requires careful navigation of these ideological divides to achieve legislative success and policy objectives.

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