Speaker Johnson insists he’s sticking to budget deal but announces no plan to stop partial shutdown

Jan 12, 2024, 10:43 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Mike Johnson insisted Friday he is sticking with the bipartisan spending deal he struck with the other congressional leaders, but offered no clear path for overcoming hard-right opposition to prevent a partial government shutdown next week.

Johnson emerged from days of testy meetings behind closed doors at the Capitol to read a terse statement. Just months on the job, the new speaker is trying to set the record straight that he will not renege on the budget deal he made earlier this week. But in his first big test as the new leader, he has yet to show how he will quell the revolt from his right flank that ousted his predecessor.

“Our top-line agreement remains,” Johnson, R-La., said, referring to the budget accord reached Jan. 7.

“We are getting our next steps together, and we are working toward a robust appropriations process,” he said. “So stay tuned for all that.”

It’s the same intractable political dilemma that led a core group of right-flank Republicans to boot Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the speaker’s office last year as they revolted against the deal he struck with the other congressional leaders and that President Joe Biden signed into law.

Lawmakers during the first work week of the new year are furious that, after spending much of 2023 watching hard-right Republicans fight the leaders, they are quickly careening toward another crisis with just a week to go before the Jan. 19 deadline to fund parts of the government or risk a shutdown yet again.

As some Republicans from the Freedom Caucus again raise the threat of a motion to oust the speaker over the deal, other Republicans are furious they are starting 2024 with the same problems of governing.

In the morning before Johnson made his statement, he met with about two dozen House Republicans, more of them centrist-leaning voices, urging him not to go back on his word and stick with the deal.

The centrists assured Johnson they have his back.

“I just can’t imagine the House wants to relive the madness,” said Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., who had helped McCarthy negotiate the initial agreement with Biden and the other leaders.

“We’re here to bolster him up,” said Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb.

“This concept of trying to break a deal that was negotiated, it’s a foreign concept,” said Republican Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, R-Fla. “What you would be asking is for the speaker to basically break his word and lie. That’s just something you can’t ask him to do.”

Since Congress resumed from the holiday break, Johnson has been holed up in his office at the Capitol receiving a steady stream of Republican lawmakers trying to force his hand.

Just two days into the workweek, the House hit a crisis Wednesday when hard-right Republicans forced the chamber to a standstill. They voted against a routine procedural rules package as a way to demand the speaker’s attention.

On the House floor, Johnson has been seen several times surrounded by Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good, R-Va., Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and others, some in animated finger-pointed discussions with him.

They are pressing Johnson to refuse the deal, with its $1.66 trillion in spending for the year, and to instead consider a temporary measure that would keep the government open but force 1% across-the-board cuts that are required to kick in if the broader package falls apart.

The hard-right flank is also insisting that new immigration policies be included, which they say would stop the record flow of migrants at the U.S-Mexico border.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said in floor remarks that Republicans should “shut the government down until you shut the border down.”

But by Friday it was more centrist lawmakers making their way to Johnson’s office, many of them who serve on the appropriations panels writing the spending bills, urging him to hold firm to the deal he struck.

Some have suggested that Johnson should consider trying to pass a temporary measure that would fund the government for several more weeks, into March.

Biden signed the spending framework into law as part of a deal he struck last spring with McCarthy. It was agreed to by the other congressional leaders from both parties and approved by the House and Senate as part of an effort to raise the nation’s debt limit to avert a federal default.

In the time since, the congressional leaders have been working to devise the topline spending numbers. McCarthy could never deliver on the final numbers before he was ousted after reaching across the aisle to pass a temporary measure in September and prevent a shutdown at that time.

Johnson and the other leaders Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate picked up where they left off and reached atopline deal at the start of the year that the speaker is now trying to have approved.


Associated Press writer Stephen Groves contributed to this report.

United States News

Associated Press

2 people were taken to a hospital after lightning struck a tree near a PGA Tour event in Connecticut

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Two people were taken to the hospital Saturday after lightning struck a tree near a home along a golf course that is hosting the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. The home is just north of the fifth green at TPC River Highlands, which is hosting the tournament one week after the U.S. […]

38 minutes ago

Associated Press

Jury awards more than $13 million to ultramarathon athlete injured in fall on a Seattle sidewalk

SEATTLE (AP) — A jury awarded $13.1 million to an ultramarathon athlete who was severely injured when she fell on a Seattle sidewalk in 2021. The award by a King County jury found that the city of Seattle and the owners of an apartment building are responsible for the amount, the Seattle Times reported. Lesley […]

51 minutes ago

Associated Press

Rains, cooler weather help firefighters gain ground on large wildfires in southern New Mexico

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Recent rains and cooler weather are helping more than 1,000 firefighters gain ground on two wildfires in southern New Mexico on Saturday that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee. Fire crews took advantage of temperatures in the 70s, scattered showers and light winds to […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

One dead, seven injured after shooting at Kentucky nightclub

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — One person is dead and seven others were injured after a shooting at a Kentucky nightclub early Saturday morning, authorities say. Louisville Metro Police Department officials said they responded to a call of several people shot at the H20 nightclub in Louisville just before 1 a.m. One man, 40-year-old Joseph D. […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Man trying to drown 2 children on Connecticut beach is stopped by officers, police say

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A man trying to drown two small children at a Connecticut beach early Saturday morning was thwarted by police officers, according to authorities. An officer spotted an SUV parked on a beach in West Haven at about 2:30 a.m. and heard “significant screaming” from the water as he approached. As […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Senate in Massachusetts passes bill curtailing use of plastics including bags, straws

BOSTON (AP) — The state Senate in Massachusetts has passed a wide-ranging bill curtailing the use of plastics, including barring the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies. The bill, approved Thursday, also bans carry-out plastic bags at retailers statewide and require stores to charge 10 cents for recycled paper bags. It also requires […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Speaker Johnson insists he’s sticking to budget deal but announces no plan to stop partial shutdown