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GOP hardliners push Johnson to abandon funding deal with Democrats

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Conservative hardliners are actively trying to renegotiate Speaker Mike Johnson’s bipartisan spending deal — ratcheting up the odds of a partial government shutdown next week.

Johnson huddled with House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) and roughly a dozen other members of his right flank on Thursday. Those hardliners emerged from the meeting optimistic that they’ll convince Johnson to walk away from the agreement he announced with other congressional leaders to fund the government for this fiscal year.

“It’s not going to be the current deal,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) told reporters after leaving the meeting.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) added that “there’s going to be a new deal drawn up, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing.”

Johnson, leaving the meeting, said he had made no commitments to the conservatives, but that discussions are ongoing.

“We’re having thoughtful conversations about funding options and priorities. … While those conversations are going on, I’ve made no commitments, so if you hear otherwise it’s just simply not true,” Johnson said, adding that there would be additional meetings.

Other members of the right flank were careful not to pin down Johnson as siding with them in favor of scrapping the funding deal, which preserves the bipartisan funding levels that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden agreed to in last year’s debt limit deal.

But conservatives characterized the meeting as a productive step toward getting House Republicans toward a consensus on an alternate plan. A partial shutdown would kick in on Jan. 19 if Congress does not act. Any new deal that would win over Johnson’s right flank is likely to hit a wall in the Senate.

“The consensus in the room is that we need to cut spending year after year and we need to secure the border,” Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.).

Good added that “there was 100 percent consensus in the room with everyone that was meeting with the speaker that the deal is terrible.”

Across the Capitol in the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to start work on a short-term spending patch that would be designed to give top appropriators time to finish writing funding bills that adhere to the recently released Schumer-Johnson agreement.

The Senate GOP’s chief member on Appropriations, Susan Collins of Maine, said in an interview that renegotiating that accord would be “extremely difficult.”

“I certainly hope that’s not true,” Collins said of House conservatives’ claims to push Johnson their way, “because it increases the chances of a government shutdown.”

Burgess Everett contributed.