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PAUSE: Johnson calls House recess as BUDGET DEADLINE LOOMS

PAUSE: Johnson calls House recess as BUDGET DEADLINE LOOMS

House Speaker Johnson

Speaker Mike Johnson and other GOP leadership have decided that the House of Representatives will not take up critical issues like aid to our allies, money for the border, or authorizing government spending bills that expire on March 1st.

Johnson is sending the House into recess while leadership will continue negotiations on the complicated issues involved in finding compromises acceptable enough for a majority of the chamber to pass. As Politico explained:

“Top lawmakers have less than three weeks to finish the first half of a federal spending agreement that’s expected to top $1.7 trillion, with the first of two deadlines hitting on March 1. As those talks heat up, negotiators are prepared for particularly bitter battles over the policy provisions known as ‘riders’ that can limit federal agencies’ ability to tackle specific issues.”

With Speaker Mike Johnson down to a three-seat majority, the smallest conservative group could topple a GOP deal on their own. However, Johnson has gambled and used complicated budget rules that require a two-thirds majority to pass.

In this scenario, Johnson avoids a scenario where just four House representatives could hold up a deal. This means, however, that the House can’t pass any legislation without Democratic support. That is a problem when it comes to those riders.

Riders often consist of extra incentives — such as approvals of pet legislative priorities or provisos limiting the extent of legislation — attached to the bill that will make it more attractive for individual members to pass. And yet, riders can become big, complex, or offensive enough to derail the bill.

Hence, leadership stays and negotiates.

The “budget people” on both sides of the House say that their negotiations are making progress and they can meet deadlines. And yet we’ve gone down this road since last summer’s debt deal, and both parties are eying each other, circling, and worrying about a shutdown or just throwing up their hands and sticking with last year’s spending numbers.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), her party’s top appropriator in the House, put the onus directly on the GOP by saying, “The big stumbling block will be if they’re insisting — which they shouldn’t — on the riders, which are unacceptable.”

For the Republican majority in the House, it’s their way or the highway. It sounds as though Democrats understand that their own ideas about what would be appropriate to include in riders won’t survive a two-thirds majority vote, with half of Republicans voting as a block.

The recess came as a surprise to most of the legislators, and it did not get a warm reception on social media.

The comments came fast and furiously:

There are consequences with public perception when the Republicans lead the House and seem to keep the government on the edge of chaos at every moment.

With very serious budget issues that impact not only this nation but other countries around the world, taking a few weeks off and leaving the public on the edge of their seats looks entirely irresponsible.

Primarily because it is.

Here’s a particularly perceptive and clear description of what is happening on Capitol Hill and in meeting rooms around Mike Johnson’s office in particular:

But it takes a real legislator to assess where things stand, and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) states, “A lot of the differences [between the Senate and House proposals] are going to be on policy. That’s where the fight’s going to be.”

Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author

Jason Miciak
Jason Miciak is an associate editor and opinion writer for Occupy Democrats. He's a Canadian-American who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a trained attorney, but for the last five years, he's devoted his time to writing political news and analysis. He enjoys life on the Gulf Coast as a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter. Hobbies include flower pots, cooking, and doing what his daughter tells him they're doing. Sign up to get all of my posts by email right here:

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