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Minnesota Republicans in Congress split over bill that would avoid government shutdown 

Every Minnesota Democrat voted for the legislation, as Democrats helped ensure the 336-95 passage in a test for new GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson.

From left, Reps. Pete Stauber, Michelle Fischbach, Brad Finstad and Tom Emmer.
From left, Reps. Pete Stauber, Michelle Fischbach, Brad Finstad and Tom Emmer.
Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Republicans were split on a short-term spending bill approved by the U.S. House late Tuesday.

The legislation would avert a government shutdown this week, but it roiled the House GOP as many conservatives rejected the stopgap measure because it did not contain the spending cuts and policy changes they sought.

Reps. Tom Emmer, R-6th District, and Pete Stauber, R-8th District, voted for the bill, while Reps. Michelle Fischbach, R-7th District, and Brad Finstad, R-1st District, were among the 95 House Republicans who opposed the legislation. 

Every Minnesota Democrat voted for the legislation, even Rep. Dean Phillips, D-3rd District, who has been on the presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire and hadn’t cast a vote since Oct. 25.

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Finstad said in a statement that approving the stopgap measure “only extends the bloated government funding levels put in place by Democrats.” 

Rep. Dean Phillips
REUTERS/Reba Saldanha
Rep. Dean Phillips
“I voted no on today’s continuing resolution because we simply cannot afford to keep going down the path of reckless spending in Washington,” he said. 

The bill would fund all government agencies at current levels, some through mid-January and others through early February. It would also extend the current farm bill through September of next year and provide some extra money for about 20 farm programs that need the additional funds to stay afloat. 

The “laddered” deadlines in the bill, called a continuing resolution, or CR, are aimed at allowing the House and Senate to pass and negotiate full-year spending bills. But it’s likely there will be more standoffs and brinkmanship next year.

The 336-95 vote was a victory for new House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, who faced pushback from conservative Freedom Caucus members and other Republicans who rejected the idea of a bipartisan approach to avert a federal government shutdown. 

Several of those who opposed the stopgap measure sit on the House Rules Committee, including Fischbach, and there was concern they would prevent the bill from coming to the floor under normal procedures. So, Johnson was forced to adopt a workaround, bringing the two-tiered bill directly to the floor under a process that requires approval by two-thirds of House lawmakers.

Several Republicans who opposed the bill, including Finstad, said they wanted Congress to pass the 12 appropriations bills that fund the federal government, instead of “kicking the can down the road.” But House Republicans have had trouble uniting behind some of these bills – two spending bills were pulled from consideration last week because of lack of support. And those that have been approved by the U.S. House contain policy riders and funding levels that are rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

So, the government has been funded by a continuing resolution since Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year, and that stopgap bill is set to expire one minute after midnight on Friday.

Democrats hailed the new continuing resolution’s passage, and took credit for the victory.

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“For the second time in two months, House Democrats have prevented a shutdown of the federal government while the Republican Majority continues to let a handful of extremists in their conference dictate the agenda of the House of Representatives,” said Rep. Betty McCollum, D-4th District, a senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. “I voted for this bill to keep our government open and stop more Republican chaos.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-5th District, also focused on the fact that more House Democrats than House Republicans voted for the spending bill.  

“I am proud that Democrats were able to once again bail out Republicans and narrowly avoid a government shutdown,” Omar said in a statement. “Sadly, Republicans have once again brought us to the brink of a shutdown because of their infighting.”

That Democratic support could spell trouble for Johnson, because it mirrors what former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy did the last time the federal government was close to shutting down. Both partnered with Democrats to pass a funding bill with no spending cuts. Eight ultraconservative House Republicans ousted McCarthy from power for doing so.

Those angered by Johnson’s move may not have the appetite to oust another speaker, which resulted weeks of chaos in the U.S. House. But those angry lawmakers can make things more difficult for their leader.

The continuing resolution would not provide any U.S. aid to Israel or Ukraine, something the U.S. Senate has been seeking. Yet leaders of both parties in the U.S. Senate have endorsed the House CR and the chamber is expected to pass it later this week.