Shutdown Clock Ticking As GOP Plays Games With State Of The Union

Mike Johnson

Rep. Mike Johnson

Five months into the 2024 fiscal year, House Republicans still can’t agree on how to fund the government, with a partial shutdown deadline on Friday. While they’re nearly half a year behind on this fundamental task, some of them are playing games with President Joe Biden, agitating House leadership to disinvite him from giving the State of the Union address if he doesn’t send them a 2025 budget beforehand.

Seriously. Here’s Freedom Caucus member Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania telling Fox News that Biden’s speech should be blocked until he sends his proposed budget: “He comes at the invitation of Congress. Republicans are in charge of the House. There’s no reason that we need to invite him.”

They even have a bill in the works to prevent future presidents from delivering the SOTU if they haven’t submitted a budget by the first Monday in February. That’s the deadline set by law, though there’s no enforcement mechanism in the law, and presidents missing the deadline is common. The law wouldn’t apply until next year, but Republicans seem to think it makes them look serious to have a bill, and they will use it to argue for blocking Biden’s speech this year.

“This is irresponsible,” Rep. Buddy Carter of Georgia said to Fox News. “Until Congress receives the president’s national security strategy and budget, he has no business delivering a State of the Union address.”

While Republicans are trying to shift the budget mess onto Biden, they’re facing a Friday deadline to stop a partial government shutdown this year, and they are foundering. The House isn’t even back from the Presidents Day recess until Wednesday, and Speaker Mike Johnson clearly doesn’t have a handle on the situation. Johnson whined about it to members of the GOP conference in a call Friday night, complaining that they are undermining his bargaining position with their constant infighting and chaos.

Members of the Freedom Caucus, meanwhile, are refusing to back down from their demands that a slew of poison-pill policy riders be included in the funding package and for more border security funding—after Republicans killed the Senate’s bipartisan border security bill.

"The only money we're giving to America is to secure our border,” Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) told Fox on Monday.

House and Senate negotiators were aiming to release a bipartisan agreement Sunday night, but the talks broke down over the House hard-liners intransigence. “Unfortunately, extreme House Republicans have shown they’re more capable of causing chaos than passing legislation,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote to his colleagues Sunday night. “It is my sincere hope that … Speaker Johnson will step up to once again buck the extremists in his caucus and do the right thing.”

To that end, Biden has entered the fray, setting up a meeting Tuesday with the top four congressional leaders—Biden, Senate leaders Schumer and Mitch McConnell, Johnson, and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries—where hopefully the combined forces of Biden, Schumer, and Jeffries can strengthen Johnson’s spine against the extremists.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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