House Speaker Faces Intense Pressure Over Looming Government Shutdown

House Speaker Mike Johnson found himself under intense pressure from top elected officials, including Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, during a White House meeting on Tuesday. Described as “intense,” the gathering included President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and McConnell, all urging Johnson to mobilize House Republicans to avert a looming partial government shutdown starting Friday.

McConnell, breaking ranks with fellow Republicans, joined Democrats in urging Johnson to bring an appropriations bill to the House floor to stave off the partial shutdown and avert a larger one next week. Jeffries characterized the meeting as “intense” and “honest,” noting its productivity in discussions regarding stopgap bills aimed at funding much of the federal government. He expressed cautious optimism about avoiding a government shutdown through swift legislative action.

According to Axios, Schumer confirmed Johnson’s commitment to avoiding a shutdown but emphasized the need for stopgap measures to prevent appropriations bills from lapsing. He described the meeting as one of the most intense he had experienced in the Oval Office. The Hill reported the meeting as a “gang-up” against Johnson by McConnell and Democrats.

Notably, Senate and House leaders, along with the White House, also sought additional funding for Ukraine’s military. Johnson faces pressure to authorize $60 billion for Kyiv, a decision that could mirror the fate of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who faced repercussions for breaking ranks on appropriations bills last year.

Despite the tensions, Johnson expressed optimism about reaching an agreement. He affirmed ongoing efforts to prevent a government shutdown, citing it as their foremost responsibility. “We have been working in good faith around the clock every single day for months and weeks,” Johnson told reporters, emphasizing their commitment to finding a resolution and averting a shutdown.