House Democrats are lining up behind the GOP’s short-term proposal to fund the government, predicting there will be plenty of bipartisan support to pass the legislation through the lower chamber this week and send it to the Senate.
Emerging from a closed-door caucus meeting in the Capitol basement Tuesday morning, a host of Democrats, representing a wide cross-section of ideologies, said they intend to vote for the measure when it hits the floor later in the day.
“There’s gonna be a lot of Democratic votes,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said. “I’m inclined to be [among them]. I can’t really think of a compelling reason not to.”
The Democrats emphasized that they’re wary of the Republicans’ “laddered” approach, which splits the agencies into two different buckets and attaches different funding timelines to each one. But those concerns are minor, the lawmakers said, relative to their other priorities: Keeping spending at fiscal year 2023 levels and avoiding contentious policy provisions on conservative wish-list items like abortion and border security.
“I’m not sure it’ll be unanimous. But it looks to me like it addressed our major concerns,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) said.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) has not yet endorsed the proposal publicly, but leaving Tuesday’s meeting, he acknowledged that there are no “poison pill” provisions, nor spending cuts, that would act to dissolve Democratic support.
And other lawmakers went much further, saying all indications are that Democratic leaders will ultimately support the legislation, joined by much of the caucus.
“They didn’t say that specifically,” Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) said. “But I don’t see anything that would [scare Democrats away]. The two big things are: There are no big cuts, and there’s no poison pill. What else do you want?”
Democratic votes will be crucial to the success of the short-term funding package, known as a continuing resolution (CR), because a number of conservative Republicans are vowing to oppose it to protest the absence of steep spending cuts.
With just a slim majority, GOP leaders can afford few defections. And, complicating the equation for newly installed Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), some of those GOP opponents are also vowing to oppose the rule preceding the CR, which could keep the final bill off the floor altogether.
To avoid that scenario, GOP leaders plan to bring the bill directly to the floor on what is known as the suspension calendar, a procedural gambit that sidesteps the rule but also requires support from two-thirds of the chamber to secure passage.
The House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of roughly three dozen conservatives, announced Tuesday that it is opposing the package, although it’s unclear how many Republicans are planning to defect.
Democrats are expected to make up the difference. But they know they have leverage in the debate. And heading into Tuesday’s vote, some said they want clear assurances from Johnson that the House will vote quickly on additional legislation providing emergency assistance to Ukraine and Israel — provisions that were not included in the CR.
“We want to give our leadership plenty of time to negotiate everything that they can,” said Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), head of the New Democrat Coalition, citing Ukraine and Israel funding specifically.
“We’re not cheap dates,” echoed Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), senior Democrat on the powerful Rules Committee.
Jeffries said he has spoken with Johnson several times in recent days, and “I expect that we’ll have one or two more conversations in the next few hours.”
House passage would send the CR to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass before the shutdown deadline of Friday at midnight. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already endorsed Johnson’s proposal, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has also strongly suggested that Democrats are ready to back it.
Mychael Schnell contributed.