More Democrats than Republicans voted in the US House of Representatives for a temporary stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown.
Some 209 Democrats voted for the bill while 127 Republicans opposed the legislation for a “laddered” continuing resolution that would keep parts of the government funded until 19 January 2024 and other parts until 2 February 2024.
The vote is a win for newly-elected Speaker Mike Johnson, who proposed the two-tiered approach as a means to avoid passing an “omnibus” spending bill, but rather to pass 12 individual spending bills, a demand from right-wing members of the House Republican conference.
The vote came after House Democratic Leadership – including Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Minority Whip Katherine Clark and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar – announced their support for the legislation. Democratic leaders said they supported the legislation because it did not include any steep cuts.
“To that end, House Democrats have repeatedly articulated that any continuing resolution must be set at the fiscal year 2023 spending level, be devoid of harmful cuts and free of extreme right-wing policy riders,” they said in a joint statement. “The continuing resolution before the House today meets that criteria and we will support it.”
Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Independent that she appreciated the fact that the bill did not include any spending cuts.
“I think this whole idea of a two part process is ridiculous, but at least we’re not shutting down government and there’s no spending cuts and there’s no poison pills,” she said.
The legislation now goes to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed openness to the bill despite his criticisms. Mr Schumer said during his press conference on Tuesday that Mr Johnson agreed to the parameters that Mr Schumer requested.
“One, not making the heartbreak cuts that the MAGA right demands,” he told reporters. “And second, making sure that if they’re going to do this sort of goofy ladder, that defense is in the second part of the ladder, not the first.”
Many Republicans from swing districts and districts that voted for President Joe Biden voted for the legislation.
“ Well, we can’t afford it shut the government down,” Rep Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) told The Independent. “We need to pay our border patrol agents we need to keep our government running. We need more time.”
Rep Mike Lawler said that the passage showed Mr Johnson’s skill.
“Obviously, it’s an important step for him as speaker to be able to show that we can govern and that you know, when it comes time to do big things, like this, that he’s able to do it,” he said.
Many right-wing Republicans criticised the approach, but refrained from criticising Mr Johnson personally. Rep Ken Buck (R-CO), who voted with seven other Republicans to depose Kevin McCarthy as speaker, said Mr Johnson faced a different set of circumstances.
“What happened with Kevin was he knew that we weren’t on schedule with the appropriations bills,” he told The Independent. “Now, Johnson inherits that mess, and Johnson’s got to do something about it.”
The bill now head to the Senate, where Mr Schumer said it could have a quick passage.