Congress Dodges Shutdown As Mike Johnson Brushes Off Freedom Caucus

WASHINGTON — Congress approved a short-term government funding bill Thursday as House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) rejected right-wing demands for a government shutdown.

Bipartisan majorities of the House and Senate passed a so-called continuing resolution that will keep the federal government functioning until March.

The far-right House Freedom Caucus had pushed Johnson to insist on changes to immigration laws as part of a government funding plan. But he defied the group, despite threats to throw him out of the speaker’s office.

“Americans did not give Republicans a majority in the House to continue [former Democratic Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s inflationary spending and [President] Joe Biden’s failed policies,” the Freedom Caucus said in a statement before the vote, urging all Republicans to vote no.

“Shut down the border or shut down the government!” Rep. Keith Self (R-Texas) had said on social media, echoing a common sentiment among Freedom Caucus members.

The Freedom Caucus theory of governing is that a shutdown would force the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House to go along with its immigration demands. In the past, Republican-led government shutdowns have not resulted in Democratic policy concessions.

Last year, after then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) prevented a government shutdown by allowing a bipartisan vote on a stopgap funding bill, a small faction of right-wing Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) successfully pushed to oust McCarthy.

The House remained leaderless for weeks until Republicans finally settled on Johnson as their new speaker.

Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.) told Huffpost on Thursday that he was losing patience with Johnson, calling the funding bill “a complete disaster.”