Feb 27, 2024 - Politics & Policy

It's all up to Mike Johnson now

This is Mike Johnson

House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/Getty Images

What comes next in the shutdown drama is solely up to House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Why it matters: As the government approaches day 150 of funding on a stopgap budget, Johnson is the one person in D.C. who can break the stalemate.

  • We've highlighted this point for weeks: It's ultimately Johnson's call whether to reach a deal with Democrats and avoid a shutdown or to follow the calls from his most conservative members and pick a shutdown fight.
  • "It was an intense meeting, it was an honest meeting," House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters after Tuesday's White House meeting between President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and congressional leaders.
  • The speaker faced a 5-on-1 press today as attendees argued over Ukraine funding, but the group all agreed they wanted to avoid a shutdown.

Between the lines: A spending compromise could be unveiled Wednesday, said top GOP budget negotiator Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

  • Johnson has offered to support a short-term stopgap to avoid a shutdown if a larger deal is reached, two sources with knowledge of the negotiations told Axios' Stef Kight and Stephen Neukam.

The big picture: Johnson inherited a weakened speakership, with a House GOP conference that's proved hard to govern.

  • His predecessor Kevin McCarthy was ousted after working with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
  • McCarthy allowed rule changes to become speaker that let a single member raise a "motion to vacate" vote against the speaker.
  • Johnson's GOP majority is much thinner than McCarthy's due to GOP retirements and the expulsion of former Rep. George Santos — whose seat was then won by a Democrat.

The bottom line: More than a year after Republicans took back the House, the sum result of their work on government spending so far is to extend the budget passed under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

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