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House GOP majority to shrink again in time for potential government shutdown showdown

The House of Representatives is again teetering on the edge of a government funding showdown as House Republican leaders prepare for their majority to be whittled down to just two.

Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, confirmed to Fox News on Tuesday that he will resign from Congress effective Jan. 21 to be Youngstown State University’s next president.

That’s right in the middle of Congress’s two government funding deadlines. Under a continuing resolution (CR) passed late last year, the House and Senate must reach an agreement to fund certain agencies by Jan. 19 and others by Feb. 2. 

But the narrow two-seat margin Johnson will leave behind won’t last long. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., said in November that he would leave Congress in February.

HOUSE LEAVES FOR THE YEAR WITH CRITICAL BATTLES STILL ON HORIZON

Fox News Digital reached out to Higgins’ office multiple times to ask about an exact resignation date.

If he stays past the first two days of the month, however, House Republicans will have little wiggle room in bipartisan negotiations on avoiding a government shutdown if a plan is not put in place by Feb. 2.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s departure, effective Dec. 31, reduced the GOP to a three-seat majority just days before Johnson’s plans were announced. 

WHERE NO CONGRESS HAS GONE BEFORE: FACING GALACTIC-SCALE FISCAL CLIFF AND BORDER SECURITY THREATS

Some House Republicans shrugged it off when asked by Fox News Digital in late December, including GOP Conference Vice Chair Blake Moore, R-Utah, who said their situation with Johnson and McCarthy leaving would not be much different than the four-seat majority House Republicans had been operating under for most of 2023.

“It’s tough to operate in a four-seat [majority], it’s tough to operate in a two-seat [majority]. We’ve got to be judicious in what we get done and do something that we can all get behind,” Moore said.

But others who spoke to Fox News Digital about McCarthy’s departure were more wary. Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., said after McCarthy’s announcement last month, “Between God, gravity, indictments and retirements, we’re one day away from losing the majority, depending on what happens.”

SENATE HAS ONLY PASSED 3 OUT OF 12 SPENDING BILLS AS DEADLINE LOOMS

Any government funding deal will have to be bipartisan, with House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., currently working with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on a top-line figure.

But it will be more difficult for Republicans to extract the kind of conservative policies that they fit into several House-passed appropriations bills last year if they can only lose two House Republican votes to pass bills.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Schumer said he is hopeful that a bipartisan deal will be reached in time to avoid a shutdown.

“We’re getting quite close,” the New York Democrat said. “I’m hopeful that we can get a budget agreement soon, and I’m hopeful that we could avoid a shutdown, given the progress we’ve made. That is certainly not out of the question, as some people have said it would be.”

   

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