Updated Feb 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Freedom Caucus raises government shutdown risk

This is Mike Johnson

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House Freedom Caucus is officially pushing a one-year spending stopgap that could trigger a government shutdown if embraced by Speaker Mike Johnson, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Johnson is running out of easy options on avoiding a government shutdown, as we wrote Tuesday night in Axios Sneak Peek.

  • In a new letter to Johnson on Wednesday, Freedom Caucus members say they prefer the spending stopgap if they can't get their way on using the budget process to push other policy priorities.
  • "If we are not going to secure significant policy changes or even keep spending below the caps adopted by bipartisan majorities less than one year ago, why would we proceed when we could instead pass a year-long funding resolution that would save Americans $100 billion in year one?"
  • The letter requests an update on negotiations and says the Freedom Caucus fears an omnibus package, instead of individually-negotiated bills, being rushed to the floor at the last minute.

State of play: 1% across-the-board cuts will start if there's not a new budget by April 30.

  • Democrats won't accept a stopgap that triggers those cuts.
  • Johnson can risk a shutdown by siding with the Freedom Caucus on the lengthy spending stopgap.
  • Or he can risk a challenge to his speakership by working with Democrats to pass a new budget that avoids the across-the-board cuts.

Between the lines: Johnson and Democrats have reached an advanced phase of negotiations on individual spending bills, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks.

The bottom line: The current spending stopgaps expire on March 1 and March 8.

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