Johnson and Schumer Face Off over Federal Spending

( – House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will have to come to terms regarding a series of government funding bills in the few days Congress will be in session between February 28th and March 1st. Four crucial funding bills are required if the government is to continue operating normally, and rumors of a stop-gap or minibus bill have been discussed amongst GOP lawmakers.

The shutdowns could begin as early as Friday unless a deal can be reached beforehand. The rhetoric became pointed over the weekend when Schumer published a “dear colleague” letter on the evening of February 25th blaming Republicans for delays. Schumer slammed “extreme House Republicans” for “causing chaos” and refusing to pass legislation.

Johnson replied via a public statement saying that Schumer’s letter was “counterproductive rhetoric” that failed to mention certain last-minute demands added by the Democrats that were not a part of previously agreed-upon negotiations between the major parties.

Speaker Johnson is in a particularly difficult position where he has to include members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus into his considerations as they have the power to boot Johnson from the position should he too readily cede to Democrat demands.

A call including GOP lawmakers on February 23rd suggested Congress may have to approve another temporary stop-gap funding bill to keep the proverbial lights on. Additionally, there’s an option to combine all four spending bills into a single minibus bill, but conservatives have generally opposed that option due to last-minute inclusions of additional spending hidden in hundreds of pages of text.

Conservatives want Johnson to resist both options and use the leverage to enact extreme spending cuts. They argue that government spending is out of control, especially in the wake of pandemic policies that resulted in extreme spending over the last few years. That extreme spending has driven inflation which has negatively impacted American families, with the poorest people being the worst affected.

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