Skip to content
Sign up to receive our free weekday morning edition, and you'll never miss a scoop.
Mike Johnson

Speaker Mike Johnson’s funding options

There are 12 days until the government runs out of money and if you’re a member of the House, you should be at least slightly nervous.

Speaker Mike Johnson, who is beginning his second full week on the job, probably has to move a government funding bill this week in order to avert a shutdown when funding expires Nov. 17.

Johnson hasn’t shared much with his leadership team. The GOP whip operation is not currently in action at all. Remember, when GOP speakers move government funding bills, the majority leader and whip operation typically hold listening sessions and begin to work the vote days — if not weeks — in advance. That hasn’t happened yet.

The House Republican Conference is slated to meet on Tuesday behind closed doors and sources in the speaker, majority leader and majority whip’s office told us that they don’t expect much of an answer on the path forward until after that gathering.

But we wanted to take this opportunity to lay out a few options for you that may help inform your thinking ahead of next week.

1) Clean government funding bill. Johnson has signaled that his personal preference is a bill to fund federal agencies until the middle of January. Jan. 12 makes sense under that scenario with the following Monday being a holiday — Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Johnson hasn’t said whether he wants the bill to be clean or not. But this would be the path of least resistance for the Louisiana Republican. Since Johnson became speaker, the House passed the Legislative Branch and Interior appropriations bills. Johnson could make the argument that Congress needs more time on a long-term spending package because the House lost three weeks after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was booted from the speakership.

We’ll say this about Johnson: the Louisiana Republican is a neophyte who never pushed through any bill of consequence. But over the last week, House Republican leadership has been a bit surprised at how Johnson has used his power. The GOP leadership was able to pass the Leg branch bill, which faced significant hurdles, without breaking much of a sweat. Johnson isolated the opposition — including Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) — and convinced the Georgia Republican not to be the lone GOP holdout against the bill.

In other words, all evidence points to the fact that Johnson is still firmly in his honeymoon phase. Johnson can use political capital to push through a clean stopgap bill. But it is likely to sap some of the goodwill he has in the conference.

2) Immigration and/or cuts. One idea bouncing around the House Republican Conference is, again, trying to twin government funding with H.R. 2, the GOP immigration bill. We understand the temptation here. There are serious problems at the U.S. border with Mexico, and House Republicans want to confront Democrats and the Biden administration on them.

The downside is that H.R. 2 is a broad bill that has provisions most senators will reject. And remember that Senate Republicans are working on a separate border plan they say will not amount to a conservative wish list, and they’ll seek to attach it to the national-security supplemental.

Another pathway would be picking a few provisions out of H.R. 2 and attaching them to the funding bill.

If Republicans choose to try to slash federal spending in a two-month stopgap, they’ll have a tough time. House Democrats will object strenuously. And Senate Democrats and Republicans are likely to throw it in the trash bin just like they plan to do with Johnson’s Israel bill, which conditioned aid to $14 billion in IRS cuts.

3) The laddered approach. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) has floated a “laddered CR.” This would extend government funding for each agency for different periods of time. This isn’t going anywhere in the Senate. And if it picks up any steam in the House GOP, you should expect an immediate government shutdown.

Senate insiders assume that the Senate GOP will want to wait to see if the House can move a bill. So it’s all on Johnson’s House.

Sneak peek: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise will be the special guest at a fundraiser for Johnson before the end of the year at the S-3 Group’s townhouse on Capitol Hill. S-3, a lobbying firm, is a hotbed of former Scalise aides, including Matt Bravo and Marty Reiser. S-3 represents Doordash, Business Roundtable, Air Line Pilots Association, American Petroleum Institute, Google, JP Morgan Chase, Boeing and others.

— Jake Sherman

Presented by The Coalition to Project American Jobs

It’s taking the IRS years to process a small business tax credit. 1M+ small business owners who filed for the Employee Retention Credit are stuck in backlog or waiting on payment for their claims. Tell the IRS to lift the moratorium now.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.