The Senate on Thursday passed a stopgap government funding bill by a vote of 77-18 that will extend a two-tiered shutdown from Jan. 19 and Feb 2, to March 1, and March 8.
The bill, which still has to pass the House, may be held up by demands from the House Freedom Caucus – which has made a last-minute appeal to Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to add an amendment vote on border and migration policy measures.
The move could throw a wrench into plans to avoid the first phase of the shutdown on Friday, however a spokesperson for Johnson suggested there’s nothing to worry about (unless you care about unchecked illegal immigration).
“The plan has not changed. The House is voting on the stop gap measure tonight to keep the government open,” wrote Johnson spox Raj Shah on X in response to the Freedom Caucus’ demands.
The plan has not changed. The House is voting on the stop gap measure tonight to keep the government open. https://t.co/ZhGzWWCEOT
— Raj Shah (@RajShahDC) January 18, 2024
Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) said on Thursday that “The Speaker is considering it, and he’s working through the mechanics to make sure that … we have the best path forward on how to do it within the legislative process.”
According to The Hill, Good and Johnson’s meeting came soon after word broke that the House would vote on a “clean” funding extension Thursday afternoon following the Senate vote.
The lower chamber canceled scheduled votes Friday — the day of the partial government shutdown deadline — ahead of expected snow that could complicate lawmakers’ travel plans.
It also comes as Johnson faces pressure from hard-line conservatives and former President Trump to reject a bipartisan package being crafted in the Senate that would pair some border and migration policy changes with aid to Ukraine. -The Hill
The proposed amendment would consist of the H.R. 2 Secure the Border Act which was passed by the House last year – which includes restrictions to the asylum process, and resumes construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall on the US-Mexico border. The amendment does not include mandatory E-Verify provisions that moderates shied away from.
The current expectation is that Johnson will bring the “clean” bill up under a fast-track suspension of the rules process, which requires two-thirds of the House to pass, and does not allow for amendments. The process has been used in the past to force through funding measures that conservatives can’t block.
In order to consider the Freedom Caucus’ proposal, House Republicans would need to schedule an emergency House Rules Committee meeting – likely chewing up much more floor time.
“There’s bipartisan consensus in the House that the border invasion is a problem and the president’s policies are causing it and we [need] to change,” said Freedom Caucus member Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who noted that 14 Democrats supported a GOP-led resolution Wednesday denouncing Biden’s “open-border policies.”