Welcome to the toughest week yet for Speaker Mike Johnson.
The Louisiana Republican must pass a funding measure this week that can win support from Democrats — including in the Senate and White House — or send the country into a paralyzing shutdown days before Thanksgiving.
Privately, several House Democrats are predicting there will be enough support on their side to pass the measure. But Johnson is already facing serious pushback from his right, in the first sign of division between the new speaker and the ultra-conservative wing of the GOP who cheered on his ascension to the top spot.
And if Johnson’s GOP can’t provide enough procedural votes to actually tee up the stopgap measure as soon as Tuesday, it will fail — forcing his leadership team back to the drawing board with just days to go. The first signal on that could come later Monday, when the House Rules Committee meets on the bill.
Johnson’s plan to avoid a funding lapse, which he revealed over the weekend, involves a two-part funding bill that would punt Congress’ spending debate into early next year, but without any of the sharp cuts hardliners demanded.
That bill is already in trouble with Republicans: A half-dozen GOP lawmakers are already out against Johnson’s plan, enough to sink the bill without Democratic support. While the new speaker leaned into conservative demands for a two-tiered funding deadline, it’s largely being viewed as a gimmick. That’s because it’s attached to an otherwise so-called clean stopgap bill — an idea the right flank generally abhors. It’s still unclear if the olive branch will accomplish Johnson’s needs: keeping conservative opposition to a minimum while also appealing to at least a small number of Democrats.