Speaker Mike Johnson Pitches a New Idea to Fund the Government: A ‘Laddered’ CR

Speaker Mike Johnson Pitches a New Idea to Fund the Government: A ‘Laddered’ CR


House Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters Thursday that he is considering a novel approach to fund the government past the shutdown deadline of November 17: passing a “laddered” continuing resolution that would extend funding for different agencies for different lengths of time.

Although it’s not entirely clear how a “laddered CR” would work, it appears that such an approach would create a series of rolling shutdown threats focused on specific parts of the government, forcing lawmakers to concentrate on passing separate funding bills, one at a time. Republicans have long called for a return to “regular order” in the House, in which lawmakers pass the 12 annual funding bills individually, rather than wrapping them into one “omnibus” package, and the laddered CR may provide a way to achieve that goal, in whole or in part.

Johnson, who has previously signaled that he wants to pass a comprehensive CR that expires across the board on January 15, 2024, said the idea for a laddered CR had been pitched at a meeting for Republican lawmakers on Thursday morning. “I think we can build consensus around it,” he said. Roll Call’s Aidan Quigley reported that Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris was the source of the idea.  

The proposal is still in the formative stages and it’s not clear that Johnson will ultimately embrace it, but that hasn’t stopped some lawmakers from criticizing the idea. “I don't understand what a laddered CR is,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar. “Some agencies are in better standing apparently, according to the House Republican Conference.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the idea sounds unworkable. “I think the speaker doesn't have a clue,” she said. “He doesn't know about the appropriations process ... That's 12 shutdowns. What are we talking about? I say I have no idea what that means and I don’t believe the speaker has any idea of what it means.”

At least one Republican joined Democrats in expressing confusion about the proposal. “Is this a step ladder?” asked Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana. “Are we digging a hole to put under the ladder?” According to Lisa Desjardins of PBC News Hour, Kennedy went on to say that he just wants lawmakers to pass a funding bill soon.