House Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday he will not withdraw from a controversial spending deal to avoid a government shutdown that is opposed by several members of his conference.
Johnson, on Sunday, announced a deal with other congressional party leaders on a spending package of $1.59 trillion for fiscal year 2024, which has been attacked by members of the House Freedom Caucus as insufficiently conservative. After negotiations with dissident members, Johnson announced Friday that he would stand by the deal, even as members have threatened to remove him from office over the matter.
“Our topline agreement remains,” Johnson told the press, adding that “we are getting our next steps together, and we are working toward a robust appropriations process. So stay tuned for all that.”
His announcement comes after reports that he was considering withdrawing from the deal at the behest of dissident Republicans, who defected on Wednesday to oppose a GOP-backed rules package governing the passage of the week’s legislation, leading to its defeat.
On Thursday, Johnson did not deny that he was reconsidering the deal. “I’ve made no commitments,” he said after several meetings with House Republican dissidents in the speaker’s suite, which continued on the House floor, as observed by the Daily Caller News Foundation from the chamber’s gallery.
Johnson’s agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer follows a deal negotiated in May 2023 between President Joe Biden and then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy on budgetary levels for 2024 and 2025. That deal, embodied in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, was opposed by 71 House Republicans, some of whom continue to object to its use for fiscal year 2024 and are demanding more spending cuts.
“Democrats will not support including poison pill policy changes in any of the twelve appropriations bills,” said Schumer regarding the contents of the deal, whose legislative text has not yet been released. “Not a nickel was cut,” he later noted regarding its contents.
The dissident Republicans have suggested that they may seek to remove Johnson from office using a “motion to vacate the chair” over the deal. The measure was last used by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, with the support of seven Republicans and all House Democrats, to remove McCarthy from office in October, which prompted a three-week election process that saw three high-ranking nominees—Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, and Majority Whip Tom Emmer—fail before Johnson’s election.
“I’m leaving it on the table,” said Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, one of the dissidents, on Tuesday, adding, “I think the speaker needs to know that we’re angry about [the deal].”
A spokesperson for Republican Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he’s “still pondering” whether to support Johnson’s removal.
“I am a hardline conservative,” Johnson has said in his defense. “It’s the best possible deal that conservatives and Republicans could get under these circumstances.”
The federal government will partially shut down on Jan. 19 if a requisite spending bill isn’t signed into law.
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