Next steps for Congress to avoid a shutdown

Many hope Mike Johnson will be able to help Congress make progress in funding agreements.
Congress has faced challenges regarding appropriation bills for the fiscal year of 2024 since the end of summer, avoiding a government shutdown and the removal of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, following his passing of the stopgap bill that prevented the shutdown in October. Starting in late September, it was believed that the government would shut down due to disagreements over funding legislation. On the eve of the potential shutdown, President Joe Biden signed a continuing resolution that kept the government open, using the funding rules of the previous fiscal year until Nov. 17.

Although that gave the House a month and a half to continue discussions over the funding legislation, the Republican majority ousted McCarthy. For three weeks, Congress struggled to find a new Speaker and eventually elected Mike Johnson (R-LA). Now that Johnson has replaced Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker, Congress has continued to discuss propositions. It is a race against time as there are only a few weeks remaining until the funding has run out. Federal agencies are legally required to have the approved appropriations in order to spend money, so until those appropriations are passed, not just through Congress but through the Senate and Biden, agencies will not have the government funds to spend.

On Nov. 1 the Senate successfully passed three out of 12 appropriation bills at once with an 82-15 vote. Among discussions of the first three bills have been other discussions about how Johnson will buy Congress more time for representatives to settle disagreements over funding for 2024 and aid requested from Biden to be sent to Israel and Ukraine. While many of these requests were stopped as soon as they reached the Senate, counter proposals and delegations are taking up more of Congress’ time to discuss spending bills for the other federal agencies that would suffer in the event that they are unable to postpone a government shutdown for a second time. Johnson has stated his intent to keep the government both open and funded, with plans to be revealed “in short order.”

However, with legislative demand that offered many challenges to his predecessor, Johnson will need to work hard to make sure that members of the House majority fully disclose their funding principles. Sources state that many of the challenges that led to the first potential shutdown were disagreements of federal funding usage from the Republican majority. These came to a head when McCarthy, with a majority of the support from the House minority, issued the temporary funding measure that kept the government open. While it is thought that Johnson’s principles will aid him in gaining more favor with the Republican representatives, there are already debates over potential solutions, should a government shutdown become a possibility once again. To the dismay of the House Republicans, there is too little time until the deadline for the continuing resolution of the normal practice of completing 12 individual bills.

Last Tuesday, Johnson discussed a few options in a closed-door meeting with Republicans to prevent a shutdown. Of these options, one of them is to sign another temporary funding legislation that would have a deadline of early 2024, buying more time for Congress once again. Although Johnson fears the necessity to repeat actions that led McCarthy to his ousting, he is still offering it as a last resort. Congress is still deciding the most efficient way to pass funding legislation for both federal agencies and aid for the ongoing wars overseas. However, any further disagreements and stalling could put the country’s agencies and citizens at financial risk.

Post Author: Hannah Moua