Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Johnson Says He Doesn't Want a Shutdown

The government is on pace to partially shut down on Saturday, and Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has finally joined the list of prominent folks saying they do not want that to happen.

That appears to be a good sign, but we suggest you regard it with at least some skepticism, for three reasons:

  1. Johnson has already shown himself to be rather duplicitous, even by politician standards. He could just be posturing so that, if a shutdown comes, he can claim he was trying his best to make a deal and it's not his fault.

  2. Johnson's GOP colleagues in the Senate are not optimistic that the Speaker has what it takes to navigate this situation.

  3. After a meeting of party leaders at the White House, Johnson and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pointedly avoided a joint appearance before reporters. If the Speaker isn't even getting along with McConnell, then it does not suggest good things about his relationship with the non-Republicans at the bargaining table.

It is very possible that Johnson is trying to maneuver the situation such that Congress passes a long-term continuing resolution, and then calls it a day. That would mean that last year's budget would be extended to cover this year, as well. The problem, from the vantage point of Democrats (and some Republicans), is that the deal made by Joe Biden and former speaker Kevin McCarthy last October specifies that the long-term-CR approach would automatically cut all discretionary funding by 3%. This approach probably wouldn't avoid a shutdown, since it could not get a majority of votes in either chamber, but trying for it would (apparently) make the Freedom Caucusers happy, and that's what Johnson needs to do to keep his job safe. (Z)

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