Congress averts a shutdown until at least March, and Alaska’s delegation votes for the bipartisan stop-gap

pillars and dome of u.s. capitol
U.S. Capitol. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

The U.S. House and Senate passed a resolution Thursday to keep government funded at current levels. All three members of Alaska’s congressional delegation voted for the bipartisan compromise, extending a government shutdown deadline until early March.

In the House, Speaker Mike Johnson took the unusual step of passing the continuing resolution with mostly Democratic votes. So for now, bipartisan compromise carries the day, but a hard-right faction in the House is furious they got rolled and they could challenge Mike Johnson’s leadership.

Congresswoman Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, said she hopes Johnson stays, not because she likes his policies but for stability.

“I believe in the process. And for the process to stay on track, the speakership is a critical position,” she said in an interview. “The House does not get any House business done when we don’t have a speaker. That’s one of the unfortunate lessons we learned the hard way in October.”

October was when ultra-conservatives in the House engineered the ouster of their last speaker, Kevin McCarthy, paralyzing Congress for three weeks. Like his predecessor, Johnson can only afford to lose a handful of Republican votes to keep his post.

“I think it’s unfortunate for America as a whole, because we have this very small minority of lawmakers who are essentially wrecking balls,” Peltola said. “They don’t believe in government. They don’t believe in government spending. They don’t believe that we should be conducting, largely, any business.”

More than 100 Republicans voted against Thursday’s continuing resolution on government spending. Among them was Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who was furious with the deal the speaker negotiated with the Senate and sounded off before the vote.

“This continuing resolution will fund your government at the same level as last year’s massive omnibus spending bill, that all of my Republican colleagues – all of them, with the exception of two in this chamber — were adamantly opposed to, spoke out against … . And they’re going to vote for it,” he shouted.

Speaker Johnson huddled with Roy and other conservatives in animated conversation as the vote was underway. His speakership may survive this test, but there are huge controversies ahead, like aid for Ukraine, border security and funding the government for the rest of the year. It’ll take more bipartisan compromise to resolve them, and Johnson’s right flank won’t like it.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her Read more about Lizhere.

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