McConnell Joins Democrats In Tense Budget Meeting With Johnson

Since House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) was elected to the leadership position last year to replace former Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), he faced significant pressure from opposing sides of his party.

That pressure has perhaps been most intense in relation to budget issues — specifically whether U.S. taxpayers should continue subsidizing Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia.

During a meeting at the White House earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly joined forces with Democratic leaders including President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) in an effort to convince Johnson to put forward an appropriations bill that would stave off the latest government shutdown threat.

The mood in the meeting was “intense,” as both Jeffries and Schumer described it, with the former adding that he left feeling “cautiously optimistic” that Johnson would acquiesce to the leftist demands.

Of course, Johnson is also accountable to the conservative wing of the GOP, which has taken a wait-and-see approach to his speakership.

It was McCarthy’s decision to support a controversial appropriations bill last year that sparked an effort to vacate the seat, thus paving the way for Johnson to pick up the gavel.

For his part, the current speaker continued to play his cards close to the chest following the tense meeting, emphasizing his demand for border reform and affirming that negotiations continued regarding what steps legislators would take to continue funding the federal government.

“We have been working in good faith around the clock every single day for months and weeks, and over the last several days quite literally around the clock to get that job done,” Johnson told reporters. “We’re very optimistic. “We believe that we can get to an agreement on these issues and prevent a government shutdown. That’s our first responsibility.”

Reports indicate that at least some conservative House Republicans are willing to endure a shutdown and the possible political backlash it would bring if it provides a pathway for the budget cuts being opposed by Democratic lawmakers.

During the budget negotiations that resulted in McCarthy’s ouster, former President Donald Trump weighed in to support a shutdown, writing on social media: “The Republicans lost big on Debt Ceiling, got NOTHING, and now are worried that they will be BLAMED for the Budget Shutdown. Wrong!!! Whoever is President will be blamed. UNLESS YOU GET EVERYTHING, SHUT IT DOWN!”