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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Will Democrats bail out Johnson?

Speaker Mike Johnson is set to face his first big vote on the House floor today — a clean stopgap funding bill designed to avert a government shutdown after Nov. 17. And just like the GOP speakers before him, Johnson — who came into power vowing he would change the way Washington works — will have to rely on a bailout from House Democrats to pass the bill. Support for Johnson’s “two-step CR” was so soft inside the House Republican Conference that the GOP leadership team decided to consider the bill under suspension of the rules. This circumvents the normal House procedural hurdles yet requires a two-thirds majority for passage, meaning 290 yes votes. As of now, roughly 50 House Republicans are expected to vote against the CR, according to preliminary estimates. But the scale of the internal opposition will be clearer following the GOP conference meeting this morning. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and other senior Democrats also want to hear from their rank-and-file before publicly committing to this maneuver. We talked to more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers and aides on Monday night. Democrats don’t love the GOP plan, yet they want to avoid a shutdown as well. One challenge for Johnson — what happens if more Democrats vote for the measure than Republicans? What kind of fallout would he face over that? Remember: Johnson’s plan would extend funding for the Agriculture, Energy and Water, MilCon-VA and Transportation-HUD spending bills until Jan. 19 at current funding levels. The other eight bills — including Defense — would be extended through Feb. 2. From a strategic perspective, there are problems and opportunities for both Republicans and Democrats here. The fact that Johnson needs Democrats to pass his first major piece of legislation undermines the central tenet of his speakership — that the Louisiana Republican is decidedly more conservative than his predecessors and would govern that way. This is a clean funding bill with no policy changes, no spending reductions, or anything conservatives really want. All House Republicans can hang their hat on is that Johnson has avoided a government shutdown while making sure that the Senate doesn’t jam them on a huge funding package before Christmas. It sets up new funding deadlines in January and another in February. Whether that helps Republicans achieve anything remains to be seen. Johnson huddled with the House Freedom Caucus on Monday night. The HFC is leading the outcry against the new speaker’s plan. At the same time, Democrats are getting nothing here for their support. They’re bailing Johnson out merely to keep the federal government open. Democrats tried and failed to get the annual defense authorization bill attached to this CR. They did get an extension of farm bill policies, but there’s no aid to Israel, Ukraine or Taiwan either. Those will have to be dealt with separately, and there’s no guarantee that Ukraine aid in particular will be approved. “Democrats don’t want to shut down the government,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Monday evening. “I think this is a bad process that he set up.” “The main thing is we have a clean continuing resolution and we don’t shut the government down,” added Rep. Brendan Boyle (Pa.), top Democrat on the Budget Committee. “Shutting the government down would cost taxpayers billions of dollars and impede our economic recovery.” We talked to several senior Democrats who told us they’ll push for some “future considerations” when it comes to negotiating FY2024 funding bills. Exactly what those considerations are, no one would say. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the top Senate GOP appropriator, told us she emphasized to Johnson during their meeting last week that the “Four Corners” — the top GOP and Democratic appropriators in both the House and Senate — still need to agree to toplines before going to conference on the FY2024 bills. But even if Democrats were going to try to put up a fight or haggle for concessions in exchange for their support, it seems no one really has the energy to do so. Several Democrats told us bluntly Monday night that the House has been in session for 10 straight weeks and members are ready to go home and celebrate Thanksgiving. In the Senate: Senators from both parties are indicating a willingness to pass the House’s CR if it’s dropped in their laps. It doesn’t include any obvious poison pills that Democrats are objecting to, and the January-February laddered dates will give the Senate some breathing room to finish up the national-security supplemental. That’s the hope, anyway. We first reported Monday that negotiations around the border security provisions — which will be necessary to unlock GOP support for the Ukraine-Israel-Taiwan package — were faltering as the two sides were trading proposals. Democrats pushed back on many of the border policy changes the GOP proposed, and they’re publicly condemning Republicans for tying Ukraine’s future to this issue. But Senate Republicans also see an urgency to get new Ukraine funding out the door, insisting they’re putting serious border-related ideas on the table to accomplish this. “Ukraine is going to start to have problems finding bullets for their guns in a couple weeks,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the lead Democratic negotiator. “So we don’t have 30 or 60 days. We have one or two weeks to get this done.” — Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan, Andrew Desiderio and Heather Caygle Happening Today! Starting at 5 p.m. ET, Reps. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio) and Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) will join us for a conversation about disparities impacting Black women. The discussion will focus on health, finance and education. The program will be followed by a cocktail reception with drinks and light bites. There is still time to RSVP! Link iconLink copied! Facebook icon Twitter icon E-mail icon PRESENTED BY CHEVRON As the world grows, energy demands grow with it. At Chevron, we’re using sources like plant byproducts and cow manure to develop and produce renewable fuels that work in engines on the road today. And through partnerships with truck fleets, we’re using these fuels to help reduce the lifecycle carbon intensity of the transportation industry. That’s energy in progress. Find out more about our renewable fuels. THE SENATE Tuberville faces impossible task as Dems inch closer to ending blockade Senate Democrats today will take a major step toward circumventing Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) months-long blockade of military promotions. The Senate Rules Committee will take up, and likely approve, a resolution that would temporarily allow the body to vote on most promotions en bloc, dramatically reducing the time needed to approve them. But the real test will be on the Senate floor, where Democrats need at least nine Republicans to join them if they have any hope of ending the nomination crisis, which has dragged on since February. Tuberville is still considering potential off-ramps. But senators from both parties are getting impatient as they look to topple the blockade by highlighting his intransigence and arguing they’ve exhausted all other options. “No matter how hard [Republicans] try, he’s not budging,” Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told us. “It’s a temporary solution. I would change a bunch of Senate rules if I could wave a magic wand.” GOP leaders want to put this nine-month episode — and the accompanying internal strife — behind them. But they also don’t want to be seen as caving to Democrats. And the Republicans leading the charge against Tuberville are wary of becoming a small minority of the GOP that just barely puts this over the 60-vote threshold. “We’re demanding that a broader group of Republicans be pulled together if we’re going to take any course of action like this,” said one GOP senator involved in the discussions. Tuberville said Monday he’s not feeling pressure to make a decision before the Rules vote or subsequent floor action. He has a seemingly impossible task here — wiggling his way out of this mess while claiming a win. “If they can get nine Republicans, God help us,” Tuberville said. The Rules Committee counts Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as members. Both are expected to speak during the 3 p.m. meeting. Schumer has already said he’ll put this on the floor. All eyes will be on McConnell, who has kept quiet on the resolution itself. To be sure, McConnell has said he disagrees with Tuberville’s tactics. And McConnell recently revealed he tried convincing Tuberville to turn his ire away from service members who have nothing to do with the abortion policy he’s protesting. But McConnell has also spoken over the years about the need to preserve senators’ individual prerogatives — such as the ability to place holds on nominations — and has warned against taking actions that would set new precedents. “It’d be a huge mistake to change the character of the U.S. Senate just because you have a personal grudge against Tommy Tuberville,” Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), a Tuberville ally, told us. Democrats — and some Republicans — dispute the idea that the resolution would radically change the Senate. Here’s Klobuchar: “You know what sets a bad precedent? When one guy, against the better wishes of nearly everyone in his party, has decided to hold up the entire military chain of command… So no one better be competing with me about what [are] bad precedents.” Important note: None of the Republicans who’ve been the most outspoken against Tuberville’s blockade sit on the Rules panel. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) fits into that category. Young says he’s trying to find other ways to end the standoff. But the Indiana Republican also has given tacit indications that he’s open to voting for the resolution. Young suggested Monday its passage might not amount to setting a new precedent, as some argue. “It’s obviously not an ideal situation,” Young told us. “My understanding is there would not be a precedent established with what the Rules Committee is contemplating. Nonetheless, that may be disputed, and there may be cleaner ways to resolve this.”

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