With the election of Mike Johnson (LA-04) as the 56th Speaker of the House, House Republicans have quickly resumed legislative activity, picking up where they last left off—individual FY24 appropriations bills. Just prior to bringing up the Energy and Water Appropriations Act late this afternoon, the House considered a resolution expressing support for Israel and condemning Hamas. The resolution passed by a vote of 412-10-6. In total, nine Democrats and one Republican voted against the resolution, while six Democrats voted present.
Now on consideration of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, the House will vote tomorrow on requested amendments and final passage of the bill. Should the Energy and Water bill prove successful, we expect House Republican Leadership to push forward with an aggressive appropriations schedule over the next month, potentially bringing to the floor:
- Legislative Branch (Leg Branch)
- Interior, Environment (Interior)
- Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD)
- Financial Services and General Government (FSGG)
- Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS)
- Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor/H)
- Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (Ag)
In order to help accommodate the hefty legislative agenda, Majority Leader Steve Scalise has announced that the House will now be in session next week, with votes expected Wednesday through Friday (the week was previously scheduled as recess).
The chances of the House considering and passing all eight of the above bills is fairly slim, but House Republicans have renewed legislative momentum coming off the three-week speakership race (caused by the motion to vacate). Speaker Johnson has acknowledged that a continuing resolution (CR) will be needed to allow for consideration of the House’s bills while negotiating with the Senate, potentially through conference committees. As such, Johnson has proposed a CR to January 15 or April 15. As a reminder, should any appropriations bills not be signed into law by January 1, an automatic one percent across-the-board cut will be trigged for all discretionary spending. The cut won’t actually take place, however, until the end of April.
OUTLOOK/ANALYSIS. Much remains on Congress’s year-end to-do list outside of appropriations, including the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization, the Farm Bill, and various supplemental spending requests. But the House’s focus—under Speaker Johnson—will be squarely on completing the FY24 appropriations process. By advocating for a CR into next year, potentially into Q2, Johnson is acknowledging that a one percent cut will likely be triggered, hoping that this provides incentive for both sides to come to the table and conference the FY24 spending bills.
Finally, much has been written about Mike Johnson over the last 24 hours. Though he has served in the House for less than 10 years, Johnson is no stranger to Leadership. He has previously served as the Chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), a position once held by Mike Pence and Steve Scalise. And he now ascends from the elected Leadership position of Conference Vice Chair, which he has held for the last three years. He will be vacating committee assignments on the Judiciary Committee and the Armed Services Committee, as well as his Deputy Whip position on Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s Whip Team. Thus, Johnson’s Leadership learning curve will be fairly minimal. What will be more severe is staffing a Speaker’s Office from scratch. Johnson’s personal office staff numbers roughly a dozen. A Speaker’s staff is closer to 40. We would expect some of those positions to be filled by the McCarthy team, but many will come from elsewhere. Staff often dictates policy, so this will be an important marker to continue watching. At the end of the day, Leadership is fairly stable and retains a host of institutional knowledge in Majority Leader Scalise and Majority Whip Emmer, as well as some newfound leeway from the House Freedom Caucus (HFC).