House Republicans are pursuing a two-step plan to fund the government, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN, with Congress barreling toward it. Another spending deadline is Friday.
Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson announced the plan on a GOP conference call with members Saturday afternoon and argued that “I’m not the one who created the mess we’re in,” according to a source on the call.
While Johnson persuaded the right-wing members of his convention to embrace the two-step approach, he did not fully obey their wishes. The package lacks the deep spending cuts pushed by his right wing, but instead extends funding at its current level.
“This two-step continuing resolution is the bill needed to put House Republicans in a better position to fight for conservative victories,” Johnson said in a statement Saturday.
The first bill extends funding through Jan. 19 and includes funding for military construction, veterans affairs, transportation, housing and the energy department. The second part of the bill, which extends funding until February 2, will cover funding for other parts of the government.
Neither bill included additional aid for Israel or Ukraine.
The two-step approach has been widely touted by Republican hardliners but rejected by many senators as a complex solution that would be difficult to implement. However, since funding for the agencies will remain at current levels, it may be difficult for Democrats to rule out.
A top Senate Democratic aide expressed their openness to Johnson’s funding plan, saying “it’s a good thing the speaker is not adding unnecessary cuts and adding defense funding to the second panel of programs.”
However, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre called Johnson’s plan “a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns — full stop.”
“House Republicans need to stop wasting time on their own political divisions, do their jobs and work in a bipartisan way to prevent a shutdown,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Ahead of Saturday’s conference call, Republicans weighed several options, including a straightforward stopgap bill with some added sweeteners and the more complicated two-step approach Johnson is pitching.
The conference is divided on which option to pursue, with appropriators in favor of a “clean” stopgap bill and members of the Freedom Caucus pushing for a staggered approach.
However, a GOP representative who is part of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. Chip Roy said at X that he was against Johnson’s plan because it didn’t cut spending properly.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries previously blasted the prospect of a two-step continuing resolution as a non-starter, calling it a “right-wing joyride” that would crash and burn the economy.
But senior Democratic sources told CNN on Sunday that it remains to be seen how Johnson handles his divided convention and whether Republicans make any changes to the plans before they commit.
To approve the bill with a majority vote in the House, Johnson must first approve a provision to set the parameters for a debate. But since the minority party usually votes against the provision, Johnson can only lose four Republicans to approve it. It’s unclear whether Republican hardliners will give him a honeymoon and vote him into office as he comes out against the basic bill.
If they cannot pass a rule, it must be passed under suspension of the rules – which requires a two-thirds majority. That means a large majority of Democrats are needed to approve the bill.
GOP leadership sources say they are still undecided on how to proceed.
At the moment, Democrats are privately critical of Johnson’s strategy, saying it is unacceptable to keep the government open in two steps. But they agree that Johnson avoided spending cuts, which was their red line.
The big question: How many Democrats will ultimately support the plan? The answer may unlock the GOP’s platform strategy.
If lawmakers fail to pass a spending plan by Friday, many government activities will be halted until Congress acts. However, essential government works will continue.
Each federal agency comes up with a contingency plan that outlines which of its operations will continue during the shutdown, as well as how many of its employees will continue to work and how many will be furloughed until the shutdown ends.
At the national level, government shutdowns can have long-term economic consequences, stifling growth and promoting uncertainty, especially if they drag on. Some of these are expenses Adds Raising the unemployment rate, reducing GDP growth and raising the cost of borrowing.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Shania Shelton contributed to this report.