House passes continuing resolution with tougher battles ahead

BY SourceMedia | MUNICIPAL | 11/15/23 01:11 PM EST By Connor Hussey

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson may have secured a short-term win in passing a "laddered" continuing resolution to keep parts of the government funded until Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, but the measure will likely create many more legislative issues and earmark the early months of 2024 for more dysfunction in the Republican-controlled House.

The 336-95 vote late Tuesday which saw 93 Republicans vote against the measure as compared to just two Democrats, will likely do more to appease Democrats than Johnson's own party, and will likely create more hurdles to the spending cuts desired by Johnson as well as many members of the GOP. The resolution was set to be considered by the Senate Wednesday and is aimed at passing before the current funding expires at midnight Friday evening.

"For now, I am pleased that Speaker Johnson seems to be moving in our direction by advancing a CR that does not include the highly partisan cuts that Democrats have warned against," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Johnson is hoping the move will give him leverage to negotiate the cuts demanded by large parts of the Republican Party, but there is almost no indication that will be the case. By the time the next funding talks resume again, Republicans will have only a four seat majority, and so far, have struggled to pass any major spending bills, with Johnson declaring another short-term resolution will not be an option when they pick this back up.

"We'll have a lot of the same issues we're still dealing with now," Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D. said. "There's a ton of work to do. But I think keeping the government funded this week is a good starting point."

Much of the current work on appropriations stems from May's Fiscal Responsibility Act, an orchestrated effort between President Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy to lift the debt limit and set out spending parameters for the next year, and ever since Republicans have been seeking cuts to counteract the deal.

"I've been on the job less than three weeks but it's been like drinking from Niagara Falls," Johnson said. "We're in good shape. What House Republicans are committed to is changing the way Washington works, we have to. We're in this economic moment right now that has become a real crisis."

There are currently 12 different appropriations bills circling through Congress, which cover everything from military and veteran affairs, energy and water development, homeland security , commerce, justice and science, as well as transportation housing and urban development, which came close to passing last week but hit a snag when House Republicans from New York objected to its inclusion of cuts to Amtrak train funding.

Muni advocates remain committed to trying to bring back tax-exempt advance refunding, among other top priorities but few believe that there will be any movement on that this year.

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