Here’s What’s On The Agenda For House Republicans After Electing A Speaker

Photo edit with Susan Wojcicki, Rep. Jim Jordan, and former President Trump. Credit: Alexander J. Williams III/Popacta
Photo edit with Susan Wojcicki, Rep. Jim Jordan, and former President Trump. Credit: Alexander J. Williams III/Popacta

After the House of Representatives elected Mike Johnson as their speaker on Wednesday, it must pass several important bills that have been pending with the body.

The House voted on Oct. 3 to remove Kevin McCarthy as its speaker, a measure prompted by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz in cooperation with several other conservatives and all House Democrats, which was followed by 22 days of impasse as House Republicans sought to elect a nominee — with three such nominees withdrawing from the race. Johnson’s election enabled the House, which must elect a speaker before commencing any business, to return to legislative matters after three weeks, with appropriations and authorization bills being primary subjects for the House to consider.

After the passage of a continuing resolution on Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown, the House must either pass all 12 appropriations bills or another continuing resolution before Nov. 17 to avoid a partial or complete shutdown after that date. So far, the House has passed only five of 12 bills — related to the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, Veterans’ Affairs and Energy — none of which have been passed by the Senate.

Following Johnson’s election and the passage of a resolution condemning Hamas for its terrorist attacks on Israel on Wednesday, the House resumed consideration of an appropriations bill related to the Department of Energy, water management and related agencies, which passed on Thursday afternoon. Members are worried that they do not have enough time to consider the remaining eight bills as well as resolve differences with the Senate on those already passed, known as a “conference” process.

“We are not going to pass all appropriations bills. We’re going to have to do something to meet the Nov. 17 deadline,” said Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie of Kentucky’s 2nd District to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

He was echoed by Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington’s 4th District, who indicated that a continuing resolution (CR) was likely.

“I think the time is very short for us to get all the bills done by the 17th. That’s unlikely. We can work as hard as we can to get as many of them done this before the 17th and that will change whatever the CR might look like,” he told the DCNF.

Apart from general appropriations, Congress is also likely to consider supplemental appropriations requests submitted by the Biden administration. One such package requests $106 billion for a joint military aid package to Israel and Ukraine for conflicts against Hamas and Russia, respectively, along with border security appropriations, while another requests $56 billion for disaster relief funding, child care and high-speed internet access, among others.

The first package has been opposed widely by Republicans in both houses of Congress, who have demanded that aid to Israel and Ukraine be considered separately amid widespread conservative opposition to the latter but support for the former.

“Israel needs to go first. We can’t sign up to Biden’s blank check policy on Ukraine,” said Republican Rep. Mike Garcia of California’s 27th District to the DCNF.

Whereas opposition to military aid to Ukraine has emerged primarily due to its cost, some conservatives have indicated they will oppose aid to Israel that is not accounted for by cuts to other spending.

“It’s got to be paid for,” said Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas’ 21st District to the DCNF.

The House must, furthermore, consider legislation to reauthorize the existence of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The continuing resolution currently in effect included provisions to extend the FAA’s authorization until Dec. 31, 2023, three months beyond the statutory expiration on Oct. 1.

While the House passed such a bill, H.R. 3935, on July 20, the measure has not been passed by the Senate, though several senators have proposed different legislation to reauthorize the FAA.

Unless the Senate passes the House bill exactly as received, the latter body will have to either approve those amendments or create a conference committee for negotiations between the House and the Senate on a compromise text, which must itself be passed by both Houses, again. It remains unclear whether lawmakers will have enough legislative days to complete this process, amid the foregoing priorities regarding appropriations.

Apart from these items, the House must also consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2024, an important annual bill that reauthorizes the existence of the U.S. military and funds some of its activities. Separate versions of the NDAA were passed by the Senate on July 27 and, narrowly, by the House on July 14, with a conference committee currently attempting to resolve differences about the bill.

On Oct. 23, Johnson sent a letter to House Republicans with his preferences for the body’s schedule for the remainder of the 118th Congress under his leadership. Apart from appropriations matters and authorizations for national defense and the FAA, Johnson indicated his preference for passing the “Farm Bill” — which is considered every five years and was last passed in 2018 — by December.

Farm bills set agricultural policy, particularly concerning farm subsidies that are essential to U.S. food production, and are often prioritized by representatives from midwestern states, where agriculture is a large component of their economies.

The ability to pass all the aforementioned legislation before the end of the year is uncertain.

Between Oct. 26 and Dec. 31, the House will spend six weeks away from Washington, D.C., on “district work weeks,” which are often timed to coincide with official holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to the Majority Leader’s website.

Johnson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Arjun Singh on October 26, 2023

Daily Caller News Foundation

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