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The new year will bring the consequences for Congress’s decision to let Speaker Mike Johnson save Christmas on Capitol Hill.

The nation’s capital does not have a government expenditure deadline in December for the first time in almost ten years. That’s because of Johnson, who averted a shutdown by playing a political ploy meant to keep his party from getting the kind of legislative gift bag that conservatives sometimes call a “Christmas tree.”

The Senate and House are not at all excused. There is a greater likelihood of a shutdown following the next two budget deadlines on January 19 and February 2, as Johnson has indicated that he will not introduce another “clean” funding bill. Some Republicans in the House are afraid that the GOP may repeat its last-minute self-sabotage from last fall because of how deeply divided they are.

In the next months, Congress will face a number of challenges, including spending. Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will engage in a stalemate over six additional important agenda items, such as assistance for Ukraine and Israel, reauthorization of the authorities to conduct foreign surveillance, border security, and the status of military promotions that have been delayed.

Twice this year, Congress has already postponed spending decisions. For many legislators, there’s little indication that January will be any different.

“How on earth do you believe you’ll be able to complete it in January if you’re unable to do it by September, then by the middle of November, and by December?” As stated by Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “There’s never a sense of urgency here to get things done.”

In theory, if we make progress on the Ukrainian front, the border, and other fronts, the negotiations to prevent a shutdown next year should be easier. Legislators are bracing themselves for another rough winter because House Republicans show no signs of wanting to put their own self-inflicted crisis in the past.

In secret, Republicans are already making jokes about how Groundhog Day is going to be the second shutdown deadline of next year, when vital Pentagon funding expires.

House of Representatives member Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) expressed concern that his colleagues would undermine the speaker if they do not back the speaker, whom they had just elected, citing the potential consequences as an example. “At most, it softens our position. The worst case scenario is that progress is rendered impossible.

Johnson has not only cast doubt on the Senate’s expectations of a funding agreement by the end of the year, but he has also rejected the idea of a continuing resolution devoid of budget cutbacks altogether, often known as a “clean stopgap spending bill.” As a result, lawmakers have just a short amount of time to pass identical legislation through both houses of Congress after resolving spending differences on twelve separate bills (the GOP in the House wants lower expenditure than the majority of senators).

In the current Congress, that is an extremely lofty request. Republican leadership member and ex-House member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) remarked that Johnson should give himself “as much leeway as possible” in order to avoid harm.

“No more clean CRs,” the speaker says. I have no idea how he does his conference, but he’s thrown down the gauntlet, Capito said. Making firm promises you’ll later have to retract is difficult. Also, he might not even have to return the favour.

Some Republican appropriators in the Senate are angry with the House’s far lower spending levels because they were the ones who made the tough cutbacks to win over conservatives there.

In the long run, that will make things more difficult: The bipartisan spending levels established by this year’s debt ceiling accord are being upheld by Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and ranking member Susan Collins (R-Maine). The Senate, which is now controlled by Democrats, will reject parts of the House bill that include cuts.

Not only that, but the House and Senate are unable to engage about less contentious topics, such as funding for veterans and military building, unless they reach an agreement on top lines, or the total amount of spending.

House Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Chairman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) stated, “We told leadership, we’ve got to have a top line if you’re going to send us over to negotiate with the Senate.” The committee is working on a reduced budget to finance DHS and associated agencies.

“It just can’t happen.” was his warning up until that point.

Last week, Schumer informed reporters that party leaders in the Senate and the House are beginning to discuss a funding agreement. Speaking on the subject of continuing resolutions, Collins lauded Johnson’s firm stance and stated, “he’s right to keep the pressure on” Congress to complete its tasks. According to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Democrats in the Senate are concerned that Johnson caused “two potential crises, even worse than” the clash in November.

While that’s happening, Johnson has to deal with another major problem: his own members are getting in the way of him bringing bills to the floor.

Nearly twenty Republicans sabotaged their party’s budget plan in the days leading up to Thanksgiving as a form of revenge for Johnson’s choice to rely on Democrats to approve a temporary spending measure and prevent a government shutdown. The GOP’s partisan spending measure, which provided funding to the DOJ and FBI, was criticised by conservatives as being “weak.” Some moderate New Yorkers voiced their opposition to the measure, saying the House shouldn’t spend its time on unworkable legislation.

The Freedom Caucus and its allies, who have effectively blocked the House on multiple occasions this year, are not backing down from their opposition to Johnson. They will no longer support Johnson’s efforts to pass budget bills until he lays forth a more comprehensive plan to reduce spending and implement conservative policy victories.

Representative Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, claims that Johnson has been assuring conservatives in both private meetings and on the House floor by stating, “he’s got a plan to actually cut spending and put the burden on the Senate.”

It is still possible for Johnson to feel pressure from both camps in the spending debate at the same time. The White House and Schumer will undoubtedly reject his conservatives’ demands for drastic budget cutbacks and policy victories.

As the election season approaches, several Republicans are concerned that this dynamic would undermine House GOP priorities until at least a key deadline on February 2 (or possibly beyond due to the increasingly difficult internal conference politics).

“We’re giving Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden the green light to keep doing their thing,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) stated. Roy cautioned, “Wait until it’s about three weeks out before primary season is kicking off” in the event that conservative spending plans are having trouble gaining support from moderate Republicans at this time.


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