The United States Senate passed a continuing resolution late Wednesday night that will, at least for now, avoid a government shutdown. The bill passed by a margin of 87–11, with 10 Republicans and one Democrat voting no. Republican Senators John Cornyn (TX) and Tim Scott (SC) were absent for the vote.
As we reported Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved the measure 336 to 95, with 209 Democrats and 127 Republicans voting in favor of it, giving new House Speaker Mike Johnson (LA) his first big win.
My colleague Susie Moore noted that the more things change, the more they remain the same:
Some will note that the measure is remarkably similar to the one passed at the end of September, which ostensibly led to the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), yet Tuesday’s vote is viewed as a win for his successor, Mike Johnson (R-LA).
In fact, it feels like déjà vu all over again—here’s a headline from RedState’s Jennifer Oliver O’Connell dated September 30:
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was in a celebratory mood after the vote:
I have good news for the American people: There will be no government shutdown this Friday night.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 16, 2023
Because of bipartisan cooperation, we are keeping the government open without any poison pills or harmful cuts to vital programs.
There are some changes that Johnson was able to achieve, however:
Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., proposed a plan on Saturday creating two separate deadlines for funding different parts of the government to set up more targeted goals to work toward in an effort to prevent Congress from lumping all 12 spending bills into a massive “omnibus” package.
Bills concerning military construction and Veterans Affairs; Agriculture; Energy and Water; Transportation and Housing and Urban Development must be worked out by Jan. 19 while the remaining eight appropriations bills must be decided upon by Feb. 2.
House and Senate leaders agreed another short-term extension was needed to determine the government’s spending priorities for the 2023 fiscal year in order to meet the deadline of midnight on Friday.
While a government shutdown as we approach the holiday season could have negatively impacted many Americans, and that “crisis” has been averted, it’s clear that this continuing resolution approach to budgeting is a disaster. Bouncing from crisis to crisis makes legislators look like buffoons and keeps ensuring that Republicans achieve little of what many of them campaigned on. Johnson has his work cut out for him in making this process less chaotic and preventing Republicans from signing onto massive expenditures just to avoid the bad look of a shutdown.
So far, he’s seemingly done a good job of rallying GOP legislators after the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), but it often seems like Republicans are playing catch-up and are outmaneuvered. It’s time for the continuing resolution fad to end and for a more reasoned, logical budgeting process to start.
Johnson’s creating two separate deadlines for funding different parts of the government is a good start, but there’s more work to be done.