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House Is Considering Kicking the Can Down the Road

There is no way Mike Johnson can put together a dozen bills that can get through the House in the next week. If he fails to do so, the government will shut down. Republicans invariably get the blame for that. Consequently, House Republicans are looking at ways to kick the can down the road. The only problem here is that can-kicking is what got Kevin McCarthy fired.

Nevertheless, many House Republicans see that they are never going to reach a consensus on a dozen bills this week or next, so they have to engage in a little can-kicking, like it or not. They are considering a fine-grained approach, temporarily funding different departments for different lengths of time while battling over the funding levels for next year.

The "laddered continuing resolution" would fund four departments through Dec. 7 and the rest through Jan. 19, putting priority on the first batch. It would contain funding for military construction plus the VA, Transportation, HUD, and Agriculture. These would be in the so-called "minibus" package, although some Republicans want defense there, too. Remember that having the House pass any bill is only step one. The Senate has to pass it as well, and any bill full of FC priorities is going to fail in the Senate, requiring a difficult Senate-House conference. If Johnson sends real FC tigers there who will snarl and not give an inch, getting to a conference bill won't be easy.

Laddered CRs have been used before, generally when funding for some departments is easy and others are contentious. The idea is to get the easy ones (like Veterans Affairs) done first, since both parties generally agree to provide veterans with the care they need. It tends not to be political. Other departments are far more political, especially when a small group, like the FC, wants to hold the House hostage to its demands.

Separate from the regular bills is the supplemental appropriation for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, with some money for border enforcement thrown in so Democrats can run ads against Republicans who vote against border enforcement. There is little agreement on that, but the supplemental is probably the most critical of all the bills since it is needed to help allies in two ongoing wars. (V)

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