Feb 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: GOP fears snowballing shutdown

This is Mike Johnson

Speaker Mike Johnson, right, at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on Feb. 6. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Republicans are privately worried that rank-and-file conservatives will embrace a full government shutdown if a deal isn't reached before this weekend, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Speaker Mike Johnson will have to choose between a deal with Democrats to avoid a partial shutdown, or siding with his most conservative members, who are itching for a shutdown fight.

  • "I think it could whet their appetite," one House Republican member said about how the House Freedom Caucus would feel about a partial shutdown starting this weekend.
  • "We feel like there's no plan, morale is really low," the House Republican told Axios.

Zoom in: Moderate Republicans consider shutdowns poisonous to their re-election chances.

  • Most of the conservatives who are OK with a shutdown hail from districts where their biggest re-election risk is in a GOP primary.

Between the lines: GOP members are pessimistic about tomorrow's White House meeting going well. Johnson told members Friday that another stopgap could be necessary to avert a shutdown while they iron out final details.

  • Another spending stopgap is possible, but April 30 is a hard deadline for Democrats, who won't support the 1% across-the-board cuts that would start after that date.
  • One member called Johnson "handcuffed" by his conference's most conservative members.
  • "The shutdown won't work no matter what we do, but especially because our messaging has been all over the place," another member told Axios.

What's next: A partial government shutdown starts this weekend absent a new budget or spending stopgap.

  • A full government shutdown would begin a week later.
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