Republicans and Democrats approve a new extension to avoid the closure of the Administration | International

Republicans and Democrats approve a new extension to avoid the
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The first major legislation proposed by the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, is very similar, curiously, to the one that cost his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, his head. With the support of Republican and Democratic congressmen, the House approved this Tuesday a double budget extension that will allow the partial closure of the Administration to be avoided. The previous extension expired at midnight this Friday, November 17. Now, everything will be left for after the Christmas holidays.

The new budget extension has been rejected by the hard wing of the Republican Party itself, since it does not include new cuts. What the law does leave out is aid to Ukraine and Israel, since there are other parliamentary initiatives in this regard being processed in Congress. Aid to Ukraine further divides Republicans, so leaving it aside avoided more dissenting votes within their ranks.

The result was 336 votes in favor and 95 against, easily exceeding the two-thirds threshold required to approve such an initiative through fast track. Of the votes in favor, 209 are from Democrats and 127 from Republicans. A total of 93 Republican congressmen have opposed it, as have four Democrats. The rule has had more Republican rejection even than the one that cost the previous one his job. speaker. At the time, Johnson voted against the extension. Now, he is the one who proposed it.

McCarthy followed that same strategy of leaving aid to Ukraine on the sidelines. Hard-line Republicans, however, did not forgive him for saving Joe Biden from the closure of the Administration's non-essential services. McCarthy said he was willing to avoid that crisis even if it cost him his job. And that was precisely the price to pay. Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz presented a motion of censure that passed with the votes of Democrats and eight wayward Republican congressmen.

After several weeks of chaos, paralysis, crossed vetoes and internal confrontations, the person chosen as the new president of the House of Representatives was Mike Johnson, a radical evangelical Christian, electoral denier and loyal to Donald Trump. Despite this, when push comes to shove, the Republicans have returned to the starting point: a budget extension that the most conservative members of their group do not like and that has had more Democratic than Republican support. The most radical prefer to force a partial closure of the Administration and use it as a negotiating weapon to demand cuts in public spending. These so-called government shutdowns are unpopular, as soldiers and federal employees stop receiving their salaries and many programs are suspended.

The hardline Republican congressmen, members of the so-called Freedom Caucus or Freedom Group, have expressed their anger in a statement because the extension "contains no spending reductions, no border security, not a single significant victory for the American people." And although they include a warning to Johnson, it does not seem that, given what happened with McCarthy's dismissal, there is any desire to open a new crisis in the House: "Although we remain committed to working with President Johnson, we need a bold change," They just point out.

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All this, on a somewhat surreal day in the Capitol in which a Republican congressman, Tim Burchett, spent the day denouncing an attack, an elbow to the kidney or the back, that the previous president of the House had given him, Kevin McCarthy, who denies the facts. Burchett is one of eight Republicans who voted in favor of the removal of the previous speaker. And, if that were not enough, a Republican senator, Markwayne Mullin, challenged an appearance, the president of a truckers association, Sean M. O'Brien, to a physical fight during a hearing in the Senate.

There has been greater understanding in the approval of the budget extension. The rule still has to be voted on by the Senate and signed by Biden, but everything seems to indicate that it will have free rein, in another repetition of what happened at the end of September, when the closure of the Administration seemed almost assured and an extension was approved in the last moment. The leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, has already announced that he will support it.

In reality, the approved legislation includes a double extension. For part of the programs, the budget extends until January 19 and for another part, until February 2. The United States does not have one budget law, but a dozen, but is systemically unable to approve them in time for the start of the fiscal year, on October 1. The usual thing is to approve a budget extension, called a continuing resolution, while the laws that authorize the expenses of the year are processed, which usually follow a cumbersome and complex procedure, full of amendments.

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